Work continues unabated on Everton’s new stadium project both onsite and offsite. Yesterday we heard the announcement that nearly £400 million in funding for the project has been secured with the City chipping in with £45m and a further £350 from the private placement market.
Today, the Club released a press statement saying that the clearing of the Bramley-Moore Dock basin has been completed, an essential prior step before infilling of the dock can commence.
Any number of objects were removed from the area, from old car tyres and bits of scrap metal to ship anchors and World War Two relics, including small anti-aircraft shells from that era that required ex Royal Navy divers bring state-of-the-art sonar technology to help identify around 400 items up to 10 meters deep.
As explained by the dive team spokesperson -
“We’ve had two teams of six divers, working day and night shifts and they are either UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) or recovery teams. UXO looked for unexploded ordnance; primarily anything from World War Two onwards and recovery was bringing out anything that may be lying on the bottom of the dock.
“When we found something, we got it on the camera, because sometimes the camera can pick things up the divers can’t as sometimes they only had six-to-eight inches of visibility in 30 feet of water.”
Colin Chong, Stadium Development Director at Everton, explained:
“We undertook a desktop exercise even before we started and agreed a methodology and risk level with the planning authority on how we would survey and make the site safe from stuff dating back to the Second World War and more recent stuff that people have thrown into the dock.
“That involves Merseyside Police, the Environment Agency and all stakeholders who may be interested in anything that could present a risk to us and the public. We implemented that process and alongside old tyres, ship anchors and general stuff, we’ve found multiple anti-aircraft shells.
“While they were only small in size, when we found them, we had to treat them with the respect they deserve because we were not sure of the condition of them and I take my hat off to the divers. They are quite used to this. But they were swimming around in water, 10 metres deep, with very little visibility and often in the pitch black.
“They had a high-pressure lance to clear away material around any target. They were literally feeling around in the dark and yet they knew what they were touching as soon as they felt it.
“We recognised in our planning that the environment would potentially throw up these issues and fortunately we planned for finding them, which is what we set out to do. Sadly, there were a few of them, but it isn’t going to impact on the overall programme or the quality of what we intend to deliver.”
The Laing O’Rourke construction team have effectively created a sealed bathtub now using the dock walls, and the next step will involve removing the wildlife in the water and relocating them back to the Mersey.
Once that is complete, the process of infilling of the dock can commence with pipework already laid to bring in 470,000 cubic meters of sand that will be dredged from the Irish sea.
Separate from that activity, demolition is also underway to remove non-listed buildings in the area. The iconic clock tower will be restored and preserved as part of the connection between the past and the future for the new stadium site.
Mr. Chong went on to add -
“Demolition is ongoing as we speak and we are actually forming the ‘bath-tub’ now, which effectively segregates our dock from the others to allow us to fill it with sand harvested from the River Mersey.
“So there’s some major maritime engineering activity taking place. There are lots of marine life still in the dock, so we’ve fitted a bubble curtain to stop any more coming back in and from 17 September we will start to remove all the fish from the dock under the jurisdiction of the environment agency. They will monitor how we remove and release the fish, recording the species, so there’s a real detailed methodology of how we intend to clear the dock.”
Everton’s development in Liverpool’s North Docks is recognised as the largest single-site private sector development currently in construction in the UK. The transformational development is a symbol of the region leading the North and the UK’s post-pandemic recovery by delivering one of the largest packages of public benefits ever seen in the North West, generating a £1.3 billion boost to the economy, creating tens of thousands of jobs and attracting 1.4 million visitors to the Liverpool City Region.
Hailing the collective effort and looking forward to the once-in-a-generation development, Colin Chong added: It’s complicated, but when we’ve finished the effort will be worth it and it will be such an iconic structure, visible from the Irish Sea, the Wirral, North Wales. All the tourists and visitors who come floating down the Mersey on cruise ships will see it as an entry point to the centre of Liverpool.
“It’s really going to be a new icon, a fourth grace for Liverpool.”