Excavated earth from rail construction will be used to build new bird habitats near Southend

Earth dug up in London to make way for Crossrail will be used to create a huge nature reserve in Essex.

The RSPB has announced that construction material excavated as part of the construction of the £16bn rail network will help turn 6.5 sq km of farmland into a wildlife park.

The wildlife conservation body said that clay, chalk, sand and gravel from the ground between Shenfield and Maidenhead would help replace habitats being lost along the Essex coast as a result of rising sea levels and development.

It hopes that rare bird species such as Kentish plovers and spoonbills will flock to the new nature reserve at Wallasea, near Southend.