AN important wildlife site has been given the strongest environmental protections possible.

Brandy Hole, on the River Crouch in Hullbridge, provides special winter habitat for winter watering birds such as brent geese, lapwing and shoveler.

It has now been designated a special protection area and site of specific scientific interest to improve sites for wildlife.

Environment Minister, Thérèse Coffey said: “This is fantastic news for wildlife and the local community.

"The designation of this additional land into the existing protected area demonstrates that our management and stewardship of important wildlife habitats is achieving a high standard.

“We have committed to developing a Nature Recovery Network to protect and restore wildlife in our 25 Year Environment Plan.

"Through these plans we will be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.”

The site supports intertidal mudflats and developing saltmarsh and provide suitable habitat for the internationally important wintering water birds such as dark-bellied brent geese, lapwing, shoveler and golden plover amongst many other waterfowl species.

Kate Jennings, Head of Site Conservation Policy, RSPB said: “The Essex coast used to be a place full of amazing and abundant wildlife, but over the last 400 years, land claim for agriculture, coastal erosion and rising sea levels have taken their toll.

“The extended designation recognises the importance of new mudflats and saltmarsh created to offset past losses and is a major step towards restoring this spectacular place.

“The designation, protection and management of our finest and most valuable places for wildlife will be key in achieving this Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, and this designation is particularly welcome as it will protect areas immediately adjacent to the RSPB’s Wallasea Island Wild Coast project, where we are working with partners including Defra and the Environment Agency to create more coastal habitat for people and nature.”