Webinar showcase for Thames habitat improvement scheme

DESIGNATED as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England, West Thurrock lagoon and marshes, near Stoneness, is being affected by coastal erosion, which is slowly reducing its value as a habitat, particularly for overwintering birds. Now, the PLA has awarded contractors Salix a project to tackle tidal erosion of the wildlife-rich 3.6-hectare site.

Molly Tucker, the PLA’s technical advisor (ecology) will share details of the planned works at next week’s habitats focused webinar on Thursday, 18 March.

PLA head of environment, Tanya Ferry, explains:

“Intertidal habitats are really important for wildlife, so it’s great to see the plans for West Thurrock coming together. Tidal rivers are dynamic systems and this site is vulnerable to erosion. The aim of the work is to restore the intertidal levels back to where they were 30 years ago, using the river’s natural processes, securing the habitat for the long-term. If you’re interested in habitat improvement works on the Thames, join us for the webinar to find out more.”

The webinar series will run on consecutive days from 16 to 18 March 2021, covering a specific theme each day: sustainability; innovation & change; and habitats. Joining the webinar as speakers will be representatives from companies and organisations including: container line, HMM; the RNLI; Royal Yachting Association; Cory Riverside Energy; DP World London Gateway; and the RSPB.

The West Thurrock marches SSSI, just down river of the QEII bridge on the north bank of the Thames, is one of nine SSSIs wholly or partly within the PLA’s area of jurisdiction, the majority comprising valuable inter-tidal habitats. The project will help deliver on the environmental commitment in the river development framework, the Thames Vision, to ‘improve biodiversity of sites (along the Thames) recognised for their wildlife interest.

Works are expected to start at West Thurrock in August, subject to approval from the Marine Management Organisation.

The West Thurrock project follows on from a major habitat improvement programme on the Kent and Essex banks of the Thames Estuary by the RSPB, supported by the PLA. The project enhanced breeding grounds for endangered birds, including lapwings, and insects, including the rare shrill carder bee.

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