London Spoil Gives Essex New Lease Of Life

10 February 2015

Costain’s work for Crossrail is also benefiting wildlife on the Essex coast.

Excavated soil and clay from projects such as the station box at Bond Street and Paddington, which will eventually form part of the major new east-west rail link, is helping to create the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ (RSPB) new Wallasea Island nature reserve.

The site is home to a wide range of waders and waterfowl, including teal, dunlin, redshanks and geese.

The spoil from Costain’s sections of the Crossrail project forms a small part of an estimated 3 million tonnes of material that is being used to raise the level of land at Wallasea, which is under threat from long-term rising tide levels.

The waste material is taken to sites at Northfleet and London’s Docklands, from where it is loaded on to ships that then sail down the Thames and up the coast to Wallasea – helping keep thousands of truckloads of the material off already-busy roads.

The 700-hectare Wallasea Island RSPB site is arable farmland, but is below sea level. It is currently protected by sea walls, but these are deteriorating.

To turn a negative into a positive, said Rachel Fancy, RSPB Warden at Wallasea Island, the waste soil is being deposited both to raise the overall ground level of much of the site and, by careful grading of slopes, to create a number of different habitats – mudflats, salt marsh and grasslands. 

The first soil from the Crossrail project was deposited at Wallasea in 2012 and the last will be delivered to the site later this year. Once suitably landscaped, the RSPB will knock holes in the seawall itself, allowing the sea to encroach in a controlled way. By raising the land with this amount of soil the quantity of seawater coming onto the site is reduced by 80% compared to leaving nature to its own devices.



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