Greater Thames Marshes NIA Legacy Projects

The following partnership projects have developed from the Greater Thames Marshes Improvement Area programme:

Green reservoirs – Sustainable surface water management to create freshwater wetlands and protect farmland. This project will deliver a sustainable network of grazing marsh habitats, providing compensation for the loss and degradation of freshwater habitats elsewhere.

ECOEStuaries – Horizon 2020 bid led by UCL. Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, with both high ecological and economic value. Major estuarine waterfront development, conservation and managed realignment projects already require a degree of habitat restoration but existing measures have failed to halt the loss and degradation of estuarine intertidal, subtidal and riparian habitats or realise river wall habitat potential.

City Rivers 4 LIFE – Demonstrate an approach to delivering integrated water resource management in urban estuaries. Focusing on urban river catchments, this EU LIFE bid will develop and demonstrate a transferable model for stakeholder engagement and water management actions to mitigate flood risk and deliver improvements in water quality, contributing to delivery of WFD and FD targets.

Public realm and interpretation at gateways to the Thames Estuary Path The EU funded MaxiGreen project has already identified the landscape improvements to gateway routes which link local railway stations to the Thames Estuary Path. This project will take this existing work forward by designing interpretation material for these key gateway locations and delivering capital works in the form of resurfacing, signage, fencing and planting. An associated landscape management plan will be developed to ensure the landscape of these station/route gateways is maintained as part of the ongoing commitment by C2C.

Wat Tyler Heights – access and interpretation. Wat Tyler Heights is the former county tip site, a 50ha landfill. The site has no public access, but it is adjacent to Wat Tyler Country Park, accessible from nearby urban areas (Pitsea, Vange and Basildon) and offers tremendous elevated views across the surrounding marshes. The site also has superb potential for management as Open Mosaic Habitat. This type of low nutrient habitat, which has developed on brownfield, landfill and wasteland sites, supports a range of nationally significant insects that thrive in disturbed environments. It is a UK (S41) priority habitat.

Citizen Science – Mouth of the Thames. A citizen science and sensing project, working with locally derived data and knowledge (from fishing, archaeology, hydrology, meteorology and ship tracking) and portraying it in a way that makes a difference to how people think about the estuary and manage the threats that this vulnerable landscape faces. Rubbish Schools – changing children’s perceptions of brownfields. Led by Essex Wildlife Trust, ‘Rubbish Schools’ takes the ‘Forest Schools’ ethos and values and transfers these from a woodland setting to South Essex’s brownfield sites.Community Mapping – using social network data to map and interpret local cultural landscapes. Heritage designations are typically defined by experts. This project will develop new ‘community maps’ which use a more contemporary, culturally-led form of mapping based on geo-referenced digital data collected via social networks (face book, geo-tagging etc).

Circular walks – linking towns to the Thames Estuary Path. Public consultation during the MaxiGreen project confirmed that there is strong demand for circular walks, linking urban communities to the marshes on their doorstep. EcoTherapy – horticulture and guided nature walks to enhance self esteem. Ecotherapy is a programme of wellbeing that promotes good physical and mental health through interaction with the environment. Pathways to Recovery – physical conservation work & training for recovering drug and alcohol users. Pathways to Recovery provides an ongoing structured programme of physical work and learning opportunities for recovering drug and alcohol users within sites identified for habitat management in the South Essex Marshes.Community Fishing School – to encourage local people to learn about responsible angling. A new community fishing school will encourage more people to learn the craft of angling on the lakes at the 845 acre site known as Thurrock Thameside Nature Park – a former sand and gravel working site, which subsequently became a landfill site and which is currently being restored to a Nature Park (leased for 99 years to Essex Wildlife Trust). Landfilling has recently ceased and the restoration is due to be completed by 2018.

Habitat creation and restoration at core nature reserve sites. Essex Wildlife Trust and the RSPB will deliver habitat improvements on the ground within their reserves, focusing on wetland areas that are visible from public viewpoints, hides and routes.  The works will include ditch management, creating local ridges, scrapes and islands and hydrological management to improve the condition of the habitats for breeding waders, water vole, great crested newt and scarce emerald damselfly.Securing viable markets for long-term conservation and management. Since the identification of the Thames Estuary corridor as a growth area, significant funding has been invested in enhancement of the natural environment in the Thames Estuary and the surrounding area, but securing long term conservation management is a perennial problem.Cycleway connections along the Thames Estuary Path. Four cycleways have been carefully planned to follow routes that avoid sensitive habitatsStrand Wharf, Leigh-on-Sea – public realm and interpretation as a setting for a cluster of heritage buildings. Strand Wharf, a medieval wharf in the centre of Leigh’s dramatic waterfront, is on the doorstep of Leigh Heritage Centre, but has been used as a backland car park. Leigh Town Council and the Leigh Society have had a long term ambition to remove the cars and create a Town Square for public use in the heart of the historic Old Town of Leigh. Strand Wharf will be a new meeting point, a place to sit, relax and enjoy the views and a focus for historic interpretation, events. This may also be a site for the possible mooring of the Endeavour (the only remaining Dunkirk cockle boat).Sustainable place-making for nature and people as part of major regeneration projects. The Greater Thames Marshes NIA is within the Thames Gateway regeneration area and NIA partners have worked with public and private sector development partners to deliver sustainable places and businesses