Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Floodgates Open at Gateway Super Port

A new inter-tidal mudflat has been created in the Thames Estuary through a 300m long opening made in the old flood defence wall at Stanford le Hope.

The opening will allow the area to be flooded through channels formed naturally by the tide from a number of ‘starter’ dykes that had already been created.

DP World London Gateway had to create inter-tidal habitat as part of the planning approval for the creation of the new London Gateway Port, to compensate for that lost to the development, and this is the first of two areas that are to be created.

The new sites will provide feeding grounds for birds that have until now grazed on the inter-tidal areas between Mucking and Shell Haven. It will ensure that wildfowl continue to thrive in this part of Thames.

The new wildlife areas will also provide nursery grounds for fish, increasing the potential for growth and diversity in the marine fish population and the new site will link with the nearby Thurrock Thameside Nature Park to form part of the east Thames ecological corridor.

Contractors for DP World London Gateway have been preparing the 30ha of farmland at Stanford le Hope, originally protected by a seawall, to create the area of inter-tidal mudflats.

Over the next few years further inter-tidal mudflats will be provided at another site on the Kent side of the River Thames.

The old tidal defence is a low grade wall, the main protection for the community being provided by the high land at the Stanhope Business Park, to the rear of the new site. As part of the works, a substantial earth embankment has been created across the landward side of the compensation area to a level consistent with the Thames tidal defences.

Steve Bewers, the Environment Agency’s Project Manager for the London Gateway Port said: ‘The creation of this inter-tidal mud flat will compensate for that lost through the building of the first phase of the London Gateway Port development.

‘This will ensure that important feeding grounds for birds will continue to exist and not be lost through commercial development. This addition to the marine environment of the Thames will also provide sheltered areas for fish, increasing the opportunity for fish growth and diversity. The varied terrestrial habitats created on the fringes of this area will allow a diverse population of animals to thrive.

Tim Bismire, engineering director, added: ‘DP World is creating a net increase in the amount of wetlands around London Gateway and this project is one part of a wider engineering and environmental management strategy. We take our environmental responsibilities seriously and we will remain committed to the protection of wildlife in the area.’

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