Northey Island - Fit for the future

How is Northey Island getting fit for the future? By recharging its salt marsh. As part of our Coastal Adaptation Strategy work we set about creating more salt marsh in the north-west corner of the island. Not only did we win an award for our work, but we have learnt a lot along the way.

During 2016, the team took inspiration from previous colleagues who championed the first managed realignment in the Blackwater estuary. This work resulted in the creation of a new area of salt marsh on the southern side of the island. 


Our work on the coast

Northey Island on the Blackwater Estuary might have been the site of the oldest recorded battlefield in Britain, but today it's also an internationally important haven for birds. As we face challenges ahead with sea-level rise, your support is helping us plan for the future.


Northey Island - planning for the long term on the coast

Northey Island may be the site of the oldest recorded battlefield in Britain, but today it's also an internationally important haven for birds. As we face the challenges ahead with sea-level rise and climate change, your support is helping us to plan for the future.

During the preparation of the Coastal Adaptation Strategy it became clear that the north-western bank was close to collapse and could breach during a storm event or winter high tide. A plan was hatched to reinforce the bank, whilst also rejuvenating the salt marsh which had been eroded by time and tide. 

Dredged sediment, removed for the navigational purposes of the historic Thames Sailing Barges at Maldon, was used to recharge the small area. The sediment which could be considered as a 'waste product' was effectively used in a sustainable way which benefited the environment.  

In this case it was used to reinforce a bank close to collapse and increase the area of threatened salt marsh habitat.

Time and tide waits for no man

We recognise that this is not a permanent solution and that the sediment will erode and wash away over time. Salt marsh is not a hard sea defence, however, it can reduce the power of the tide whilst also being a home for wildlife. Over time, with increased sea-level rise and storm events due to climate change it will most likely return to where it came.

In the meantime, the newly formed area is already being colonised by salt marsh pioneers. These plants are the first signs of a new, revitalised habitat. whilst also maintaining the local seed bank. 

Fit for the future award

Last December Hilary McGrady congratulated the Northey Coastal Adaptation Strategy team. Here's what she had to say:

'At Northey Island, we’ve been impressed by the team’s innovative use of waste material that’s been dredged from the channel for navigation. Close partnership working with Essex and Suffolk Water is enabling the team there to re-use sediment and restore the saltmarsh, making the island more resilient to sea-level rise in the future.'