Continuing ICZ month, we’ve recently signed a research agreement with the partners behind the £259m Mersey Gateway Project, one of the UK’s largest infrastructure initiatives.

It’s a major scheme to build a new six-lane toll bridge over the river Mersey, between the towns of Runcorn and Widnes, to relieve the congested and ageing Silver Jubilee Bridge. The new bridge will become one of the North West’s most recognisable landmarks.

Working with the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust (MGET), the area around the new toll bridge will be a ‘living laboratory’ to monitor saltmarsh changes and effects on grazing cattle. The projects carried out on the site will give our students great opportunities to carry out biodiversity surveys and contribute to an international biodiversity monitoring programme.

Paul Oldfield from the MGET said: “We would not be able to do this without the support of the University of Salford. Becoming part of an international programme exceeds our expectations of where we thought we would be at this stage of our development.”

We’re also working with design firm AECOM to co-fund research that could lead to PhD studies and scientific papers. Research areas may include exploring potential issues for wildlife when working in areas with contaminated sediments; predicting disturbance to sensitive species from construction activities; and investigating perceptions of biodiversity within construction.

Peter Skinner, chief executive of environment and ground engineering for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa at AECOM, said: “Shaping research so that it is applicable to specific projects provides students with opportunities to make a tangible difference to both academia and industry through their learning.

“Greater collaboration between universities and the private sector will make an important contribution to mitigating the impact of infrastructure on the environment and protecting the natural world. AECOM is proud to be working with the University of Salford on this initiative to increase understanding of the environmental and ecological aspects of infrastructure projects.”