A local councillor has welcomed investment in a Mearns nature reserve. Following a successful funding package from Aberdeenshire Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, St Cyrus National Nature Reserve is set to receive almost £200,000 to upgrade their car park and visitor centre. The ambition is to create a more vibrant visitor experience. The reserve is a locally important attraction, lying 6 miles north of Montrose, with an annually increasing number of visitors leading to greater strain on the car park.
Councillor Wilson hailed the investment: “The current car park is frequently full and over-spill parking near the single-track road is a safety concern both for passing traffic and pedestrians. The car park surface is unsuitable for the high volumes of traffic and becomes heavily potholed, with other areas of the car park subject to flooding due to poor drainage. The works proposed will certainly alleviate these issues and with an enhanced layout, the site will be able to make more efficient use of the spaces available.”
The car park is owned by Aberdeenshire Council and managed jointly with Scottish Natural Heritage who operate the Reserve. The proposal is to improve the car park by re-surfacing and other landscaping to reduce future maintenance demands whilst at the same time improving the quality of the experience and sense of arrival for visitors.
Re-design of the current space, with a high quality, environmental and durable surfacing, would provide an opportunity to improve the facility for all classes of visitor, and to enable a capacity for coaches and camper vans, within the existing footprint. Disabled parking and cycle parking will be improved and, although not part of the current design, it should also be feasible to provide charging points for electric vehicles. Over-spill parking of cars on the roadway can be reduced by increasing capacity within the existing footprint by better use of space. Some physical treatment of the verge may also be incorporated to actively discourage on-verge parking in the most dangerous places.
Councillor Wilson continued, “So far in my time in the council I have championed a three Ts approach: Tourism, Tourism, Tourism. The Mearns has so much potential to draw people in and I think we are starting to gain some traction now in unleashing it. The St Cyrus Nature Reserve is a hidden gem and you would be forgiven for believing you are in another part of the world once you set foot on the beach. I am delighted this funding has been secured so work can begin on this site and we can look forward to a more pleasant welcome to the reserve.”
Calli Hopkins of Our Mearns Tourism Association said “St Cyrus nature reserve is one of the hidden treasures within the Angus and Aberdeenshire border. This funding will ensure this area of natural beauty is more accessible to tourists and visitors. The Our Mearns Tourism Association (OMTA) is continually trying to promote the region and it’s fantastic news to hear that funding has been funding has been allocated to such a special facility.”