Showcase wildlife centre launched

ED FOSS It is one of the boldest projects to be launched by a conservation body in Norfolk - and it was given the official seal of approval at a ceremony yesterday.

ED FOSS

It is one of the boldest projects to be launched by a conservation body in Norfolk - and it was given the official seal of approval at a ceremony yesterday.

The much-lauded plan to build a state-of-the-art visitor centre at Cley saw a turf-cutting ceremony held to celebrate the start of building work.

The new Norfolk Wildlife Trust visitor centre is a partnership project with the Environment Agency and the National Trust.

Representatives from various groups were on hand yesterday and were able to see some of the early earthworkings.

Brendan Joyce, director of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: "It has been a hard slog for the best part of two years, at times a turbulent and difficult journey, so it is fantastic to see work is now starting.

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"There has been a great deal of planning, fundraising and negotiations and this is a very exciting time for us.

"As well as providing much-needed amenities for visitors and the local community, the new building will be an environmental showcase."

Dr Charlie Beardall, eastern area manager with the Environment Agency, added: "We are delighted to have been involved in such a worthwhile collaborative project."

And Simon Garnier, the National Trust's area manager for Norfolk, said the project demonstrated a "strong partnership" between the two conservation charities and the Environment Agency.

"It is exciting for us to work together on a co-ordinated message regarding this dynamic area of the north Norfolk coastline."

The new centre will include up-to-the minute interpretation, a café and new shop, as well as giving people a background to the overarching £2.5m GEESE Project and the impact of climate change on the north Norfolk coastline. At the same time, work will also be taking place on the reserve itself to improve the habitats for breeding birds.

The building work is scheduled for completion next spring and trust bosses hope to open the centre for Easter.

The principle funders for the project are Go East and the East of England Development Agency.