Otter Trust to create centre focussing on wildlife and rare animals on river
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A Norfolk wildlife institution has decided to reopen its former headquarters at Earsham.
The Otter Trust is to create a multiuse centre, focusing on wildlife and rare breed animals at the site near Bungay, which will be renamed the Earsham Wetland Centre.
The site had been leased to the River Waveney Trust (RWT) since June 2013 but the Otter Trust raised concerns regarding the maintenance and responsibilities of the site and the burden this might place on the RWT.
Otter Trust trustee Ben Potterton said: 'Over the past few months we have been looking for partners to make the Earsham site a success again. We intend to create a new café facility and education centre, whilst trying to be as sympathetic to the overall aesthetic of the site.'
They also intend to open a heritage farm with rare breed livestock and a native species centre that exhibits endangered and rehabilitated wildlife such as pine martens, golden eagles and pool frogs.
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The Otter Trust opened the site in 1978 as a breeding and education centre for the Eurasian otter.
They closed it in 2006, but continued to financially support otter conservation and research initiatives.
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Since 2013, the RWT have run an educational programme from the centre.
A statement from the Otter Trust said that after a six month consultation with the RWT regarding the constraints of the lease, the RWT decided to surrender the lease from the end of February.
Members and volunteers can still however use the site.
It added: 'Some RWT members will obviously be disappointed, but access to the site should remain the same and the Otter Trust have committed to a £250,000 investment to improve the site, enabling a wider audience to enjoy the river and increasing the educational facilities available.'
Over coming months, the Otter Trust will apply for planning permissions to improve the site.
They intend to enable free access to the riverside and are planning to hold lectures, workshops and outside theatre to revitalise the centre.
River Waveney Trust trustee Robin Twigge said he wished the Otter Trust good luck with their new venture.