The wildlife group were amongst the first of the general public to take advantage of the free ferry service to Wallasea Island on the RSPB’s open day on 20th July. Spoil from the Crossrail project has been arriving on the island day and night for two years now, and over 2 million tonnes of it has been spread over what used to be arable land. We were taken by land rover on a guided tour around the island to see the progress which has been made. The spoil, mostly London clay, has been laid down layer by layer, 9 inches at a time, rolled flat and left to settle, until the land is now over a metre higher than it used to be. Parts have been raised higher still to form new sea walls, footpaths and cycle tracks.
Cell 3, the large area of water in the top centre of this diagrammatic view, will be ready to be filled with sea water, via a sluice, by 2015. Two “scrapes” have already been dug in this area and have filled with rainwater, attracting breeding avocets and other birds.
Cell 1, the large kidney-shaped area on the right (north-east), will be ready to have its sea wall breached in 3 places by 2016. The sea wall/cycle track marked in white, which separates it from cell 2, is already in place, and the contours of the proposed channels and islands are already visible. Footbridges will be built over the breaches in the sea wall so that it will be possible to walk the entire perimeter of Cell 1 and reach areas which are, at present, inaccessible.
We returned after our very interesting “safari” trip to the information marquee and to the beer tent to buy coffee to drink with our sandwiches. At this point a thunderstorm rolled in, and we were glad to climb into a minibus and get back to the marina to catch the ferry home. Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea, and since the ferry could only take 12 passengers at a time, we got very wet queuing for our turn. But it was warm rain and it did not spoil our very enjoyable day.