The recharge protects the Essex Wildlife Trust reserve, Tollesbury Wick marshes. The marshes and fleets regularly support around 1,000 brent geese, 1,500 wigeon and around 200 avocet, in winter. The grassland and ditch network are also habitats for nationally important plants and invertebrates.
The entire south facing saltmarsh protecting the reserve’s sea defence was lost sometime between 1888 and 1997. In 1998, sands and gravels were discharged along this 730 metre stretch of foreshore. The recharge ridge has effectively dissipated wave energy along this frontage over the last 17 years and has been fairly stable; any material moved upriver on the flood tide is returned by the stronger ebb current. Silts have built up in the lee, at a rate of 70mm per year, raising the height of the foreshore by 1 metre.
Algae are developing over the surface muds and pioneer saltmarsh is establishing. This has stabilised the mud and will facilitate further vegetation growth. The saltmarsh south of Shingle Head Point is expanding seawards behind the north-eastern extent of the recharge with the development of common cord-grass, with sea purslane fronting the sea defence. Natural beach ridges are active around Shingle Head Point with washover onto the saltmarsh.
The shingle has formed a spur to leeward at the south-western end of the polder fence. Within this, vegetation has developed dominated by rank grasses with yellow-horned poppy, covering an area of approximately 350 square metres. The sparsely vegetated sections have become important roost sites frequented by large flocks of oyster catcher and ringed plover.
The yellow area on the picture shows the proposed recharged site.