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October 16, 2023

Don't Blind the Fish! Esh Construction's Unique Challenge in Tyne Bridge Refurbishment

Don't Blind the Fish! Esh Construction's Unique Challenge in Tyne Bridge Refurbishment


The iconic Tyne Bridge, a symbol of Newcastle's rich history and engineering prowess, is undergoing a much-needed £42 million refurbishment by Esh Construction. However, the project has encountered an unexpected environmental challenge as the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) imposes strict conditions to protect the river's fish population, particularly Atlantic salmon. In an unusual twist, Esh Construction has been directed not to shine lights directly at the River Tyne during the refurbishment, a measure aimed at safeguarding fish migration and preserving their natural behaviors.

Kittiwake Nesting Season: A Delayed Start

Before the peculiar concern over fish protection, Esh Construction had to navigate around the nesting season of kittiwakes, a species of seagull that calls the Tyne Bridge home. The project had to patiently await the end of the nesting season, showcasing the intricate balance between human progress and environmental preservation.

The River Tyne's Tidal Waters and Concerns for Fish Migration

The River Tyne's tidal nature for its last 14 miles adds complexity to the refurbishment project. Fish migration, particularly that of Atlantic salmon, is a critical ecological consideration. The MMO, in granting a marine license for the Tyne Bridge refurbishment, has expressed concerns that construction activities could adversely impact fish behavior and hinder migration necessary for spawning.

Order to Protect Fish

No Direct Lights at the RiverIn response to these concerns, Esh Construction has been directed by the MMO to implement specific measures to safeguard fish during the refurbishment. One notable condition is the prohibition of directing lights directly at the river. The MMO fears that such illumination could induce behavioral changes in fish, potentially disrupting their migration patterns.

Environmental Responsibility in Construction

The unique directive from the MMO underscores the increasing emphasis on environmental responsibility in construction projects. Beyond the traditional challenges of logistics, safety, and engineering precision, modern construction initiatives are expected to align with and respect the natural environment. In this case, the careful consideration of fish migration patterns highlights a commitment to harmonizing progress with ecological sustainability.

Balancing Act: Progress and Preservation

The Tyne Bridge refurbishment project serves as a reminder of the delicate balance required when undertaking significant construction efforts in ecologically sensitive areas. It showcases the industry's evolving approach to construction, where environmental impact assessments and proactive measures are integral components of project planning.


As Esh Construction embarks on the extensive refurbishment of the Tyne Bridge, the unexpected challenge posed by the MMO highlights the multifaceted nature of modern construction endeavors. The directive not to blind the fish serves as a testament to the importance of coexisting with and respecting the natural environment during large-scale projects. The Tyne Bridge refurbishment, with its unique blend of historical preservation and environmental mindfulness, symbolizes a new era in construction where progress and preservation can successfully coalesce for the benefit of both infrastructure and nature.

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