A MAJOR developer has submitted plans to create a nature reserve as compensation for disruption which will be caused to wildlife during a multi-million pound project.

Hutchison Ports is looking to construct a seawall and wave breaks as well as realign the coastal flood defences south east of Foulton Hall, in Harwich Road, in Little Oakley, to create the wildlife habitat.

This is understood to be a compensatory environmental site to support water bird populations impacted by the loss of intertidal habitats at Bathside Bay.

The Bathside Bay project has been mooted for years and would see a major expansion of the container port terminal, boosting the local economy by millions of pounds a year.

The construction phase of the proposed realignment scheme will involve stripping of vegetation as well as deepening and widening the former creek system within the site.

The habitat is said to comprise about 188 acres of inter tidal mudflat as well as 25 acres of saltmarsh, along with sand and shingle.

It is also proposed for some of the topsoil to be removed to be used in landscaping Bathside Bay and the small boat harbour.

Some residents in Great Oakley have taken to social media to express their views on the habitat plans.

One said: “Coastal realignment is something that has been done in several places around Essex, it provides valuable habitat for overwintering birds and salt marsh plants.

“I think that the port will invest in this to increase their green credentials.”

Another added: “The development of Bathside was planned long ago but now the developers have to, in effect, replace the lost habitat.

“It’s not an ideal solution but it’s better than when the developers didn’t have to do anything.”

A spokesman for Hutchison Ports said: “Construction works are due to commence this year on the initial enabling works for the Bathside Bay site, which will become in due course a major container port for Harwich.

“Bathside Bay is also a key component of the ambition and objectives of Freeport East to be a large hub for global trade and national regeneration as well as creating a ‘hotbed’ for innovation that will have a positive impact across the UK.”

Tendring Council will determine the habitat plans.