13 July 2008

£3.5m Tees Barrage watersports plan a step closer

A MULTI-million-pound upgrade of the Tees Barrage white water course to make it one of the best in the world has moved a step closer.

The Stockton Middlesbrough Initiative is calling on people to give their views on initial designs for the £3.5m project ready for a planning application to be submitted.

The improvements involve redesigning the main course, building a second shorter course and installing four massive Archimedes Screws to create guaranteed conditions for canoeists, rafters and other white water sports activities.

The 12m long by 3m diameter environmentally-friendly screws will also use excess river water to generate electricity, making the course sustainable in energy terms.

Fred Hartley, senior projects manager from British Waterways, responsible for the upgrade, said: “This is not only a fascinating and innovative piece of engineering it will also result in a truly world class facility for the Tees Valley.”

British Waterways are seeking comments and support from local people and organisations on the designs. Discussions are also underway with current course users, organisations and businesses along the river to ensure details of the scheme meet everyone's aspirations.

Councillor Bob Cook, Stockton Council's Cabinet member for regeneration and transport, said: “The River Tees brings Stockton and Middlesbrough together. It already has a range of high quality sports and recreational facilities. The new white water course will be a real asset for the region and indeed be of national importance.”

As well as being used as a training camp for Olympic competitors, an upgrade would enable the site to bring some of the biggest watersports events to the Tees both before and after London’s 2012 Games.

Middlesbrough Deputy Mayor, Councillor Bob Kerr said: “These upgrades will make the white water course the best of its kind in the UK. Facilities at the barrage are already an enormous asset to both Stockton and Middlesbrough and the wider Tees Valley, and will continue to be a major attraction for visitors from around the country and further afield.”

Major funding bids have been made to regional development agency One NorthEast and Sport England for nearly £3m. Together with contributions from British Waterways and the two local authorities, the £3.5m upgrade will be able to proceed.

Subject to the bids being approved the scheme should be able to start in November and finish by summer 2009.

An exhibition of the designs will be held on Friday from 11am-5pm at the Four Seasons, Tees Barrage, Stockton.

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