Case study:Saltburn Gill ironstones mines

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Location: 54° 34' 19" N, 0° 57' 37" W
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Project overview

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Status In progress
Project web site
Themes Economic aspects, Social benefits, Water quality
Country England
Main contact forename Peter
Main contact surname Aldred
Main contact user ID
Contact organisation Environment Agency
Contact organisation web site
Partner organisations Environment Agency, DEFRA, The Coal Authority (UK)
Parent multi-site project
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encompassing the following
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Project summary

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This on-going project targets a section of the Saltburn Gill that was negatively impacted by Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) from abandoned mine workings, located upstream of the discharge point. Historically, East Cleveland was a major source of ore for the Teesside iron and steel industry, specially from the 1850’s until the early 1960’s. Afterwards, the decline of the mining activity resulted in an uncontrolled abandonment of the working mines in within the region.

In 1999, the mine discharge rose the typical iron levels of the Saltburn Beck from around 0.1 milligrammes per litre (mg/l) to in excess of 1200mg/l. Over 330kg of iron ochre is deposited on the stream bed every day. In one year, this is the equivalent of over 100 tonnes of iron into the North Sea. The devastating effects on the ecology readily appeared, mainly due to the drastic depletion in the oxygen levels. A biological impact survey of the stream showed that the pollution reduced the water quality of the beck from good to bad status along to 2 km of the watercourse from the discharge point to the sea.

The Saltburn Gill Action Group (SGAG) was set up in 2005 as a community action group. Assistance was given by The Environment Agency, Teesside University, the local Wildlife Trust, the Parish Council and others to try to find a solution to this problem. Then, several site investigations were carried out with insights to build up a treatment plant.

Funding from DEFRA and the Environment Agency allowed the development of a treatment scheme and construction started in December 2012. This will involve a large pumping borehole into the mine workings and settlement ponds and reed beds. It is expected to start pumping in the spring or early summer of 2013 and final drying up of the polluting discharge and construction of the final parts of the scheme may not happen until 2014-15.

The River Restoration Centre would like to thank Peter Aldred from the Environment Agency for providing the information and photographs for this case study.

Monitoring surveys and results

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Lessons learnt

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Image gallery

Mine discharge point
Impact on the Saltburn Gill stream
Impact on the Saltburn Gill stream
The Saltburn Gill joining the Skelton Beck in Saltburn
Aerial photo of the lower end of the Saltburn Beck

Catchment and subcatchment


River basin district Northumbria
River basin Tees


River name Saltburn Gill Catch trib of North Sea
Area category 10 - 100 km²
Area (km2)
Maximum altitude category 200 - 500 m
Maximum altitude (m) 231231 m
0.231 km
23,100 cm
Dominant geology Calcareous
Ecoregion Great Britain
Dominant land cover Arable and Horticulture
Waterbody ID GB103025071960


Name Saltburn Gill Nature Reserve
WFD water body codes GB103025071960
WFD (national) typology Low, Small, Calcareous
WFD water body name Saltburn Gill Catch trib of North Sea
Pre-project morphology
Reference morphology
Desired post project morphology
Heavily modified water body No
National/international site designation UK - Site of Special Scientific Interest
Local/regional site designations
Protected species present No
Invasive species present No
Species of interest
Dominant hydrology
Dominant substrate
River corridor land use
Average bankfull channel width category
Average bankfull channel width (m)
Average bankfull channel depth category
Average bankfull channel depth (m)
Mean discharge category
Mean annual discharge (m3/s)
Average channel gradient category
Average channel gradient
Average unit stream power (W/m2)

Project background

Reach length directly affected (m)
Project started 2009/07/01
Works started 2012/12/03
Works completed
Project completed
Total cost category
Total cost (k€) 700000700,000 k€
700,000,000 €
Benefit to cost ratio
Funding sources

Cost for project phases

Phase cost category cost exact (k€) Lead organisation Contact forename Contact surname
Investigation and design
Stakeholder engagement and communication
Works and works supervision
Post-project management and maintenance

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure Pollution incident
Hydromorphology Quantity & dynamics of flow
Physico-chemical Oxygen balance, PH
Other reasons for the project


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications
Floodplain / River corridor
Planform / Channel pattern
Other Construction of a Treatment Plant
Non-structural measures
Management interventions
Social measures (incl. engagement)


Hydromorphological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Biological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Physico-chemical quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Any other monitoring, e.g. social, economic

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Monitoring documents

Additional documents and videos

Additional links and references

Link Description BBC, 2011. Polluted Saltburn Gill in Cleveland gets cash for clean-up BBC, 2012. Saltburn polluted stream clean-up begins EA, 2012. Saltburn’s ochre stream set for clean up

Supplementary Information

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