SECTIONS of salt marsh in Arnside are being painstakingly removed to make way for a new pipeline – and will be returned to exactly the same spot once the job is done.
Engineers for United Utilities are replacing an old storm overflow pipe along the beach and laying a new 50cm diameter pipe along the foreshore, parallel to the promenade and under the pier.
The water company, which is also carrying out a programme of works in and around Lancaster, says the work is vital to improve the Kent estuary by reducing the impact of storm overflows into the sea during heavy rains.
But it’s also a race against the clock to get the work done before winter-nesting birds return for their seasonal visit.
Project manager Paul Romanko said: “It’s like a huge jigsaw, but the pieces are all green. Our new pipe runs right along the foreshore, under the salt marsh, which is a habitat protected by law.
“Each metre square section is colour-coded and numbered before being taken to our special storage area to be tended by experts.
“The marsh is usually watered by the estuary’s natural tidal movements so we’re having to mimic that effect by bringing the estuary water to them in bowsers. It’s quite a job.”
The pier will need to be closed for up to three weeks from July 23 while the pipe is laid underneath.
United Utilities said it would also be importing new salt marsh and planting it next to the old to extend the area.
It will also replace marsh that has been washed away in previous years.
The whole project is expected to be finished by the end of October, although some salt marsh work may need to be completed during 2013.
Coun David Willacy, chairman of Arnside Parish Council, said that the village was still open for business.
He said: “The work on the beach isn’t stopping people enjoying themselves and it’s even a bit of a talking point. We can’t wait for it to be done.”