Monday 17th September marked a new stage in the development of the Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project - the official opening of the site by the recently appointed Minister for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Owen Paterson. Annie Reid, Edwin Buckley and I were ferried across the Crouch in the Harbourmaster's new motor launch to the event and Robert Coyle arrived by car.
The opening ceremony took place in a carefully sited marquee, with the conveyor belts, used to move the spoil from the boats to the trucks which take it to a distribution site further inland, as a backdrop.
There were speeches, of course. Owen Paterson, mentioned above, plus Mike Clarke and Andrew Wolstenholme, chief executives of RSPB and Crossrail repectively, spoke warmly of the co-operation between two huge organisations which will result in the transference of 4.5 million tonnes of soil from the Crossrail site in London to Wallasea Island. Crossrail has constructed a jetty and an excavated material handling facility, which, at its peak, will unload 10,000 tonnes of material from four ships per day.
Edwin Buckley, RCYC member, is a member of the Crouch Harbour Authority and has been responsible for the production of the shipping management plan, a means of enabling the traffic of the spoil boats to merge with the leisure use of the river with the least amount of interference, one with the other. It was gratifying to hear Edwin's name especially mentioned in this respect.
The moment arrived, the VIPs pressed the red button and, eventually, the spoil dribbled of the end of the conveyor belt into the waiting truck. Once the rate of four ships per day is achieved, the conveyor belts will run continuously.
There are three links on the right. These will take you to the Crossrail report, with some interesting photos of the handling facility as well as the RSPB site, with the details of the hopes of the outcomes for the wild life in the area. Don't forget to click on the Crossrail photos to get a larger image. There is also a link to the Crouch Harbour Authority's website which will show you the shipping movements. Click on individual boats for further information.
So, it all begins. With the end of the sailing season rapidly approaching, there are several months for the full programme of four daily boats to become established. It remains to be seen whether it all works out...here's hoping!