THE RSPB reserve at Bempton is a step nearer becoming a national seabird centre.
Already recognised as home to England’s largest colony of nesting sea birds, both nationally and internationally, it has just received a £33,000 award from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help it expand and develop as a year round nature tourism destination.
Getting this initial funding means the RSPB can now also apply for a full grant, possibly around half a million pounds in total, in the future.
Ian Kendall, site manager, said he was “extremely chuffed” by the news.
“It is good news to get the funding but there is now a lot of work to do to prepare our case for the second phase.said.
“This award will enable us to pull that together, involving architects plans, an overall master plan and detailed plans for expanding activities on the site.”
The RSPB’s vision for the future of Bempton includes improved visitor facilities, including an indoor cafe, an extension of the existing visitor centre into a new seabird centre with dedicated space for learning opportunities for local communities, school groups and visitors with an indoor classroom and teaching resources.
It also wants to develop teams of interpreters, seabird researchers and a team of volunteers to improve visitor understanding of the site,
“It could include more about the history of what we have here, the story of the climmers, egg collectors, for example, could be told by people wearing period costume.
“We are also hoping to put the live CCTV images we already show in the centre of nesting seabirds live on our website,” said Mr Kendall.
The centre, which has been in existence as a reserve since 1969, also looks set to equal and even beat last year’s visitor numbers of more than 65,000.
“Recent TV coverage on programmes like Countryfile and Countrywise plus a good start to the early summer means we should be on target to at least equal last year’s figures,” said Mr Kendall.