A HUGE nature reserve will be created in south Essex with earth removed from London for the construction of the £16billion Crossrail project, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds announced today.

Construction material excavated as part of the new rail line across the capital will be used by the RSPB to turn 2.5 square miles of farmland at Wallasea Island, in the Rochford district, into a tidal wildlife habitat.

Clay, chalk, sand and gravel from the Crossrail scheme, connecting Shenfield to Maidenhead in Berkshire, will be used to redesign the landscape on Wallasea Island to provide saltmarsh, mudflats and other coastal habitats.

Plans for the coastal nature reserve at Wallasea, eight miles north of Southend, were unveiled last year.

The RSPB hopes the scheme, which aims to replace habitats that are being lost as a result of rising sea levels and development, will attract rare or vanished species such as spoonbills and Kentish plovers.