Investing in the future

Thanks to funding by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Natural England is about to start some of the planned improvements at the Avalon Marshes Centre, significant refurbishment to hides at Shapwick Heath and construction of a biofuel storage barn. These works will replace and repair life-expired buildings and infrastructure, reduce running costs and carry out upgrades to meet modern standards.  Kier Services are the managing contractors and have already appointed local architects and engineers. Natural England will be working with them to ensure that as far as possible other local contractors and suppliers are used.

Avalon Marshes Centre

The principal work is the construction of a new office building on the end of the existing workshops to replace the “temporary” offices which house staff from the partner organisations. All three existing offices are life-expired with leaking roofs, rotting woodwork and other significant issues.

Linked with the new office construction a modern self-contained sewerage system will be built. The current one is an old cesspit which requires pumping out on a regular and costly basis. The new system will use electricity for a small pump and natural treatment with reedbeds as the final part of the process. It is being designed to accommodate the future development of a permanent café and education building (both currently temporary buildings).

The third element is the external refurbishment of the craft gallery, replacing the existing wooden windows and cladding. Once again rot is a significant problem and the thermal efficiency is poor to say the least!

The centre will remain open throughout the period the work is being carried out.  The aim will be to minimise disruption, although some will be inevitable.

Hides and other works

The other works to be carried out are nearly all on Shapwick Heath NNR including:

  • Meare Heath hide – refurbishment and improvement
  • Decoy hide – refurbishment and improvement
  • Noah’s hide – construction of a new enlarged tower hide
  • 70-Acre screen – replacement by reusing and refurbishing the existing Noah’s hide.
  • A bio-fuel store at the wintering yard

The last project is the refurbishment and improvement of the (very tall!) tower hide at Bridgwater Bay NNR (at Steart point).

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