New £2 million visitor centre opens at Holkham National Nature Reserve
- Credit: Archant
A new £2 million environmentally friendly visitor centre has opened at the Holkham National Nature Reserve to help accommodate its 800,000 annual visitors.
The Lookout, a uniquely designed and circular structure, is located at the entrance to Holkham beach and was completed in mid-August.
It provides a catering facility and a variety of information panels along with three television screens highlighting the wildlife that can be seen through photos and video footage.
Managing director of the Holkham Estate Peter Mitchell said: 'The building is designed to be striking but not to stand out from the environment it sits in.
'It is so important that we are able to provide information about the nature reserve. There are some very vulnerable species here. The Lookout is going to provide that information.
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'When people know about the species they are much more likely to tread carefully and to keep their dogs under control and enjoy the environment.'
Free water is supplied at three different levels for visitors and one of the aims of the new centre is to reduce single-use plastic by using 100% plant-based compostable packaging.
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Visitors can purchase a 'cup for life' with drinks and an electric vehicle serves the site with two electric charging points installed close by.
Mr Mitchell added: 'The aim is to provide facilities for the existing visitors. It is very environmentally friendly.
'All of the packaging on food and drink, it's all compostable. We're not selling bottled water, visitors can fill up their own cup for life.'
Holkham National Nature Reserve was designated in 1967 due to the range of habitats and wildlife it supports and is important for wintering wildfowl and breeding birds such as Lapwing, Little Tern and Spoonbill.
Much of the reserve is former saltmarsh that had been reclaimed since the mid-17th century by the Coke family and the Holkham Estate for grazing sheep and cattle.
The reserve's wardens and estate's education team are also planning a number of engagement events to inspire and educate visitors to the site.