The Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project is the RSPB’s landscape-scale coastal habitat creation initiative. It is the most ambitious and visionary managed realignment scheme in the UK and will, when completed, be almost 800 hectares in size.
The project involves raising the island’s land levels using materials excavated from separate National Infrastructure Projects. This will return it to levels that were experienced before it was claimed from the sea and will allow the tide to be re-introduced over the island to create a complex mix of new habitats. Crucially, it will avoid a future unmanaged breach of the site that will otherwise cause substantial damage to the adjacent Roach Estuary.
ABPmer is the RSPB’s marine environmental advisor for the project. We designed the functionality of the scheme, lead the Environmental Impact Assessment, prepared the required planning submissions and now undertake site monitoring.
To develop the scheme, we used a combination of our in-house hydrodynamic numerical modelling skills, coastal processes knowledge and ecological expertise. We paid particular attention to the volumes of tidal waters that would flood on and off the site as that had implications in terms of the changes that could occur in the adjacent Roach Estuary. Once we had identified the best exchange volume we undertook further refinements to develop a final design with optimal functionality and ecological value.
Planning permission was granted in 2009 and the first phase of the project (Jubilee Marsh) was completed in July 2015.