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Bright future for nature reserve as it triples in size

Midsummer sun rising over the newly purchased area of Sculthorpe Moor nature reserve. Pictures: Andy Thompson.

Midsummer sun rising over the newly purchased area of Sculthorpe Moor nature reserve. Pictures: Andy Thompson.

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A nationally important nature reserve in north Norfolk has more than tripled in size.

Midsummer sun rising over the newly purchased area of Sculthorpe Moor nature reserve. Pictures: Andy Thompson.
Midsummer sun rising over the newly purchased area of Sculthorpe Moor nature reserve. Pictures: Andy Thompson.

The Hawk and Owl Trust (H&OT) has bought 150 acres of land surrounding its existing 45-acre Sculthorpe Moor nature reserve, near Fakenham.

The reserve is famous for its wildlife and habitats and can now offer a home to a vast range of wildlife from plants and fungi, to otters and birds of prey.

The £1.7 million needed to buy the land and turn it into a wildlife paradise was raised in just two years, thanks to public support.

This enabled the land to be secured and the three-year project to manage the land and develop the infrastructure to be started.

The project relied on a major Heritage Lottery Fund award, and a significant amount was donated by the Local Enterprise Programme (LEP).

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The trust, whose headquarters is at Sculthorpe, will now start delivering the project to allow public access to the land and develop the habitats to make the land more suitable for the widest range of wildlife.

Nigel Middleton, Sculthorpe Moor reserve manager, said: "I have been working towards this since first seeing the land 18 years ago.

"For much of the time it seemed like a hopeless cause, but now the dream has come true.

"The trust will benefit but at the heart of it all, it will be the wildlife and local people in this area that will be the true beneficiaries. I can't tell you how excited I am for the future of the reserve."

The diggers will roll onto the barren fields on August 5 to scrape away the first bucket loads of soil in the formation of open water and redirection of the ditches. A new entrance near the visitor centre will be the next task, as boardwalks and other fully accessible pathways will be taking shape around the reserve.

Adrian Blumfield, chief operations director H&OT, said: "It has taken a lot of effort to reach this stage, and the project to bring this land to the point of being an amazing place for wildlife and people has only just begun. The future is bright."

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