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Wallasea Island milestone reached thanks to Crossrail partnership

Excavated material from Crossrail used to create wildlife conditions.

A significant milestone was reached over the weekend on the Wallasea Island Wild Coast project.

Based in Essex, the work is transforming farmland into the marshland that occupied the area approximately 400 years ago.

This transformation has been made possible thanks to a partnership between the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Crossrail.

Crossrail, when it opens, will bring about a 10% increase in London’s rail-based transport network capacity while also cutting journey times across the city.

These services will be available in central London in 2018.

The Wallasea Island Wild Coast project has benefited from more than three million tonnes of excavated material from Crossrail, raising some parts of the island by more than one metre on average.

It has led to the creation of lagoons and many features that are friendly to wildlife, while sea walls are also now protected.

The weekend saw the first phase of work completed, as ‘Cell 1’ sea walls were breached, allowing tidal flow into marshland.

Crossrail Chief Executive, Andrew Wolstenholme, explained the importance that partnerships like this have to the construction industry.

He said: “Crossrail has helped deliver one of Europe’s most significant conservation projects on Wallasea Island.

“This trailblazing partnership with the RSPB is a key part of Crossrail’s sustainability strategy and demonstrates the benefits that can be achieved when the construction industry and environment groups work together.

“This major new wetland will be a lasting environmental legacy of the Crossrail project for generations to come as well as supporting economic growth and jobs through an increase in tourism to the local area.”

Sustainability is key to Crossrail and this can be displayed by the fact 98% of excavated material in Crossrail’s tunnels and stations has been recycled or re-used.

Of the re-used material, almost half has gone to Wallasea Island, with 2,400 shiploads of material delivered.

The other upside to this is that shipping the material has resulted in the removal of more than 150,000 lorries from the roads.

Work on Wallasea Island restoration commenced in 2006 and by 2025, it is hoped that 148 hectares of mudflats, 192 hectares of saltmarsh and 76 acres of shallow saline lagoons will have been created.

This spectacular wildlife will be there for the general public to see thanks to eight miles of coastal walks and cycle routes.

Although Crossrail have delivered more than three million tonnes of excavated material, RSPB estimates that more than ten million tonnes are needed to create the reserve and are looking for partners to secure the remaining amount of necessary excavated material.

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