A PEACEFUL nature reserve was taken over by more than 200 revellers who descended on it for an illegal rave.

Police were called by angry residents after scores of people turned up at Canvey Wick, off Northwick Road, at about 1am on Sunday.

The reserve is home to a rare, protected species of shrill carder bee and has just undergone a major revamp by the RSPB.

Islander George Watley, of Limburg Road, said he had been kept awake by the ruckus.

He added: “This really should not be allowed.

“It kept us awake and was an absolute nuisance.

“These youngsters are not interested in the rare wildlife on the Wick. They are just interested in getting themselves absolutely blottoed and head banging.”

“I have no objection to people having a good time, but once people start doing things illegally, it encourages the wrong element.”

Last July, about 100 people damaged the reserve after turning up at the Wick for an illegal rave organised via Facebook.

On Sunday, residents and local councillors spotted youngsters clambering over the seawall and through ditches and called the police.

Canvey Island Independence Party town and borough councillors Dave Blackwell said: “The people at these raves leave behind a lot of mess, such as broken bottles and glass.

“It’s worrying and dangerous because people go to the Wick with their children to ride horses and walk their dogs.

“You cannot have people drinking and doing drugs there.

“There is also the safety of these young people at these events to consider.

“It is very dark there.

Someone could easily fall down into one of the ditches and hurt themselves and nobody would know about it.”

Steve Roach, RSPB warden at the Wick, said the organisation had been trying to strike a balance between making the Wick accessible to nature lovers and keeping it secure.

He added: “At the minute, we are working with the police and council to keep them updated.

“We have signs up, warning people they could be prosecuted.

“We are making the site as secure as possible, while allowing the public who want to enjoy it, to go there.

“We have put up bollards to stop motorbikes getting on, but they are a type which still let horse riders through.

“When work is complete on the site we will be taking on volunteers who will be looking after it and will also keep an eye on things there.”

A police spokesman said the Essex Police helicopter had been launched at 1.50am in response to reports of an unlicensed rave.

He added: “Officers attended and found between 100 and 200 people there.

“They tried to identify the organisers and the event ended at 3.30am.”

Anyone with information about who organised the event is asked to call police on 101.