humber estuary l UK 

Ports: Hull, Immingham, Grimsby and Goole
Length: 121 km

Environment Agency

Who is who?

  • The Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies (IECS) is a multi-disciplinary education, research and consultancy organisation specialising in estuarine and coastal science and management within the University of Hull.
  • The Environment Agency (EA) is the leading public body for protecting and improving the environment in England and Wales. Of particular concern for the Environment Agency Hull branch are estuarine habitats, flood risk management and climate change adaptation.


The Humber estuary covers the UK's second largest river catchment area, including the industrial areas of Manchester, Sheffield and Nottingham. The port of Hull is therefore sometimes refered to as the ‘Northern Gateway’. Unlike in the other three TIDE estuaries, dredging is not the major issue at the Humber, as the tidal Humber does not transport sediments upstream. Its problems are instead associated with the highly modified morphology of the estuary and the threat of flooding caused sea level rise.

From an environmental perspective, concerns of importance include oxygen deficiency, habitat loss and coastal squeeze due to increased development pressures.

There have been a number of management attempts in the Humber estuary, and a number of management plans and strategies have been produced. However they are largely sectoral and occasionally spatially constrained. The main gap lies in the coordination and integration of the different management approaches. Although a multitude of plans have been produced, stakeholders are unaware of their existence and many have never entered an implementation phase.


Among the efforts made so far to promote sustainable development in the Humber estuary:
  • The Humber Management Scheme has identified over 100 different measures that would ensure the continued favourable condition of the Humber estuary.
  • A reporting and review programme was initiated to monitor the success of the Management Scheme.
  • The Humber Advisory Group brings together all relevant authorities in charge of sustainable development measures.
  • The Shoreline Management Plan and the Coastal Habitat Management Plan are currently under revision.

Maintenance and mitigation measures

Examples of good practices in the Humber estuary:
  • Generic Appropriate Assessments have been undertaken for key activities such as maintenance dredging.
  • The Humber Industry and Nature Conservation Association (INCA) was established to facilitate dialogue between industrial operators and nature conservation regulators.
  • A ‘No net loss’ principle for habitat has been identified for new plans and projects.
  • Review of existing consents operating around the estuary

 Humber estuary TIDE reports and publications