A landmark environmental project made possible due to a unique partnership between Crossrail and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) reached a significant milestone this weekend.
The first phase of the Wallasea Island Wild Coast project was completed when the new sea walls of ‘Cell 1’ were successfully breached to allow for tidal flow into the marshland.
This coastal scheme, located eight miles north of Southend-on-Sea in Essex, aims to transform 670 hectares of farmland, an area about 2.5 times the size of the City of London, back into the coastal marshland it once was some 400 years ago.
Over three million tonnes of excavated material from Europe’s biggest infrastructure project, Crossrail, has been used to raise part of the island by an average of 1.5 m, creating lagoons and other wildlife-friendly features and protecting these areas with new sea-walls.
Wetland restoration began on Wallasea in 2006 when sea walls were breached on the northern edge of the island.
By 2025, the RSPB’s Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project plans to have created 148 hectares of mudflats, 192 hectares of saltmarsh, and 76 hectares of shallow saline lagoons.