AN energy firm will invest more than £1million re-routing underground cables on land set to be flooded to create a bird sanctuary.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) plans to intentionally flood parts of its land at Wallasea Island, in Rochford, in a landmark conservation and engineering scheme on a scale never before attempted in the UK.

The Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project site will be the largest of its type in Europe.

While most of the project has been designed around existing underground electricity cables on the island, a section of the equipment operated by UK Power Networks could become submerged and difficult to maintain.

The company, which owns and maintains the vast network of underground cables, overhead electricity lines and substations across East Anglia, London and the South East, is re-routing 1.7km of cable beneath bund walls created by the RSPB to segregate the island into separate areas for different birds to live.

The firm is also taking the opportunity to install an extra cable duct to allow for a future electricity supply to a new visitors centre on the site - helping to complete the innovative RSPB scheme.

Ian Robinson, UK Power Networks project manager, said: “It is a pleasure to be involved with this scheme in the knowledge that our equipment will be safely positioned across the isolated island.

“Our part of the project should take approximately eight weeks and we’ll be working very closely with the RSPB to make sure our work doesn’t affect any wildlife.”

Chris Tyas the RSPB’s Wallasea Island project manager said “Completion of the work will see a nature reserve that should support over 50,000 birds along with a range of other wildlife, while future proofing it against climate change for decades to come.”

The Echo told last year how the project is working to transform 670 hectares of arable farmland into the coastal marshland it once was. This huge area is more than double the size of the City of London.

The project is a response to the challenges that climate change poses for the UK’s low-lying coastline and aims to protect the future of this special landscape for people and wildlife.

Wallasea Island will support many important species and could even re-establish breeding birds lost from the UK, such as Kentish plovers and black-winged stilts. It is hoped that a wide variety of birds such as avocets, dunlins, redshanks and lapwings will return in significant numbers along with large flocks of brent geese, wigeons, lapwings, and curlews in the winter months.

Plants such as samphire, sea lavender and sea aster are expected to thrive in the marshland as well as the rare oil beetle.