New nature reserve near Lowestoft set to give £1m boost to Suffolk’s tourism sector
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A project to create a major new nature reserve on the outskirts of Lowestoft is projected to bring a £1million windfall to tourism-related businesses in the area.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust has plans to develop a 1,000 acre landscape for wildlife at Carlton Marshes, creating a southern gateway to the Broads National Park and representing the biggest habitat restoration and wetland creation in the park for a decade.
The scheme, which will also see a new visitor centre built, has already attracted more than £4m funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and now the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) – the region's economic development body – has announced it is giving a grant of £250,000 to the venture because of its importance to the visitor economy.
Managing director of the New Anglia LEP, Chris Starkie, said the project is aligned with the LEP's ambitions for job creation economic growth.
He said: 'The reason we are supporting this project is because tourism is one of the largest sectors in the Suffolk and Norfolk economy.
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'We are looking to grow the value of both sectors and, importantly, help develop attractions that are open all year round – rather than being seasonal.
'The Broads in Norfolk is a real jewel in our tourism infrastructure, while the Suffolk part is less well-known. This a great opportunity to raise the profile of the Broads in general as a national asset.'
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Consultants working for Suffolk Wildlife Trust have forecast the new reserve will attract 120,000 visitors per year on completion, putting the location just behind RSPB Minsmere in terms of visitor numbers.
They have also projected that people drawn to the area by the new reserve will spend up to £1,371,500 annually with nearby businesses – an amount expected to support more than 40 new jobs in the area.
Chief executive of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Julian Roughton, said the award from New Anglia LEP was evidence the new reserve had benefits beyond wildlife.
'The restoration of this special corner of East Anglia will bring rich rewards not just for Suffolk's wildlife but also for the local economy. The 1,000 acres of reedbed, fen and wetland scrapes will support some of East Anglia's iconic species such as fen raft spider, marsh harrier, bittern and crane.'