£3.5m centre opens at nature reserve

A £3.5m environmentally-friendly visitor centre opened its doors this week at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust's Welney reserve.

A £3.5m environmentally-friendly visitor centre opened its doors this week at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust's Welney reserve.

The new centre boasts a range of hi-tech green facilities along with a restaurant, shop, community room, a 117-metre footbridge and a purpose-built education room.

Building the centre, which took 10 months, has used some of the latest environmentally friendly techniques, energy-saving technology and renewable materials.

Veronica Morris, centre manager, said: “I am delighted to be joining the trust to head the team at such an important site.

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“This new development has been planned to introduce the visitors to ways and means of using the world's resources sustainability as well as providing a fantastic base from which they can discover and learn about the wealth of wildlife that exists on this reserve.”

One of the highlights of the centre is the bridge, which spans a road and two water courses, as well as two flood defences, and provides a direct link to the reserve's main observatory.

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The bridge also houses a CCTV system, which will be used to send footage of wildlife on the reserve back to the visitor centre.

Other attractions at the centre include natural ventilation and insulation using recycled products.

The heating is provided using a “ground source heat pump” and the main structure of the building is clad in larch timber, which has come from sustainable forest sites in Siberia.

A spokesman for the centre said: “A wealth of other eco-friendly features are explained across the site and throughout the new visitor centre by an exciting and creatively designed sustain-ability trail entitled Sus It Out.

“Look out for this and discover the full story about this very special and inno-vative WWT visitor centre.”

The centre was funded by a range of grants from organis-ations including the Heritage Lottery Fund, the East of England Development Agency, the European Union, Norfolk County Council, the Environment Agency, trust members and also from a generous legacy.

t Website: www.wwt.org.uk

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