Sir David Attenborough, an iconic figure of British wildlife documentary films, has opened the Thurrock Thameside Nature Park on the site of waste infrastructure company, Cory Environmental’s restored landfill site at Mucking, Essex.
A video update to this article featuring a BBC documentary covering the restoration of the landfill can be viewed at the bottom of the page.
The opening is the result of a major restoration project at Mucking Landfill to recreate a range of wild habitats.
According to Cory, the 120 acre site will eventually expand to cover 845 acres and sits on top of a ‘pie-crust’ - which caps 30 metres of waste deposited over a 50 year from six London boroughs - and is now attracting rare bees, birds and reptiles and provides a haven, through a network of paths, bridleways and cycle routes, for people to enjoy.
Peter Gerstrom, CEO at Cory Environmental, explained that London’s waste, which was previously delivered to the site by river, is still being transported in this environmentally friendly way, but instead of being landfilled it is now processed in a modern waste to energy plant on the banks of the River Thames.
Cory explained that the nature park is being run by the Essex Wildlife Trust, while the funds for the new visitor centre have come from Cory Environmental Trust in Thurrock.
The company also noted that beside Mucking Creek on the north bank of the Thames Estuary, the Nature Park has been occupied since Stone Age times. A ‘Mucca’ was a Saxon chieftain and ‘ing’ his enclosure.
The new Visitor Centre has been designed to reflect the local history of the site, and is built in the style of a fort – it has already been shortlisted for Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors awards.
Tilbury Fort, where with England threatened by the Spanish Armada, Queen Elizabeth I made her rousing speech to troops in 1588, is three miles upstream. Also close by is Coalhouse Fort, built in 1861 to defend London.
The company said that the restoration of the landfill site is reconnecting local communities to a stunning location they have not had access to for decades.
Cory added that people have been involved since the gates opened 'unofficially' in July 2012 and enjoy wildlife events, stargazing and yoga, and that the education team welcome school visits.
President emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts, Sir David Attenborough commented: “A new chapter has begun for this historic landscape beside the Thames – one which will bring joy to people and dramatically improve the fortunes of wildlife in this part of the Thames estuary.”
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