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Essex wetland moves ahead

Europe’s largest artificial wetlands project took another step forward last week when the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) submitted its scoping study.

The £12M scheme aims to create a 736ha wetland at Wallasea Island, Essex.

It involves building a series of fl ood control structures to allow tidal water from the River Crouch estuary to partially flood the island (NCE 11 October 2007).

The RSPB’s study, compiled with the aid of the project’s consulting engineer Faber Maunsell, reveals that the wetland environment will include 133ha of mudflats, 202ha of saltmarsh, 44ha of shallow saline lagoons and 72ha of coastal grazing marsh.

About 12km of coastal walks and cycle routes will also be created. RSPB conservation manager John Sharpe said the scoping study identifies issues that need to be addressed in the Environmental Impact Assessment that will accompany an application for planning permission from Essex County Council.

Faber Maunsell has already designed a smaller wetlands scheme at Wallasea for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Aff airs (DEFRA).This created 110ha of wetlands by breaching the sea wall following construction a new flood defence.

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