Cress Marsh: a unique, award-winning project allowing nature and industry to thrive side-by-side. 

Colleagues from ENGIE, regeneration partner for North East Lincolnshire Council, describe the South Humber Industrial Investment Programme work at Cress Marsh. 

What is the South Humber Industrial Investment Programme (SHIIP)? 

With ambitions to transform the South Humber bank’s economic fortunes, North East Lincolnshire Council, working with its regeneration partner ENGIE, secured £42m of investment to develop land and infrastructure between Grimsby and the port town of Immingham. The overarching project has been called the South Humber Industrial Investment Programme (SHIIP). 

What was your vision? 

Protecting the natural environment and mitigating the impact of climate change, whilst looking at ways to attract new business, was a priority. SHIIP aimed to preserve and grow both wildlife and new business along the Humber Estuary, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). 

Cress Marsh provided the answer: 100-acres of undeveloped land nestled close to the Humber bank and near established, and new, industrial sites. With support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (GLLEP), work started to transform this land into a wildlife haven and importantly one of the first purpose-built mitigation sites of its kind in Europe. 

What was the purpose of your work at Cress Marsh?  

Every business that wishes to develop along this stretch of the Humber Bank must provide land to mitigate the impact of its build. This stringent planning requirement can be expensive and delay the official process by months as areas of land are identified and purchase is negotiated. Cress Marsh provides just that – ready-made mitigation land complete with flooded water cells, a developing natural environment and even a bird hide so species can be recorded and monitored by volunteers.  

What environmental successes and benefits have you seen so far?  

The natural environment is protected and enhanced by Cress Marsh, which in 2020 won the Excellence in Planning for the Natural Environment category at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence. Judges were ‘extremely impressed’, saying the project represented ‘leading practice in the industry’ and provided a template that ‘should be replicated elsewhere’.  

Today Cress Marsh is home to scores of bird species – of the 81 different breeds recorded during this last wintering season, 32 have the special protection status SPA, including whooper swan, tufted duck, teal, redshank, pink-footed goose, peregrine, little egret, lapwing, greylag, and curlew.  

How will green business and natural environment success stories develop in future?  

Cllr Philip Jackson, Leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “Cress Marsh has already been welcomed by industry, with new ‘green’ businesses developing exciting projects close by. Myenergi, a leading provider of green energy solutions for home and travel, will move into our newly developed “Pioneer Business Park” this spring. And this environmental success story is set to grow too – when pharmaceutical giant Novartis Grimsby leaves the area after 70 years, its legacy will be Novartis Ings, a second mitigation site being developed as part of SHIIP.” 

For more on SHIIP please go to