RSPB Conwy go greener as makeover begins
5 October 2012
RSPB Conwy’s dream of a fresh new look is about to turn into reality! On Monday 8 October 2012 the reserve’s Conwy Connections project kicks off with the installation of new solar thermal panels for the Coffee Shop.
Conwy Connections is a project that aims to enhance the connection between people and nature at the RSPB reserve. The initiative includes several new features, the centrepiece being a specially landscaped area between the existing Visitor Centre and Waterside Coffee Shop. This area, will be known as Y Maes and, as well as being an outdoor meeting place, it will also provide elevated views for visitors across the reserve and beyond to the Conwy Valley, as well as incorporating natural areas in which children can play.
There will be stepping logs, a den-building area, a ‘roly-poly’ bank, a ‘mud bath’ and new picnic and seating areas. This new area will also be the hub for local events such as the monthly Farmers’ Markets and annual Gardeners’ Markets. The first phase of the project includes major improvements to the car parking facilities at the site, new interpretation around the reserve and a brand new observatory built out of straw bales in the New Year. The work is due for completion in autumn 2013.
An estimated 3,500kWh of energy per year will be produced by these solar thermal panels – the equivalent to powering a medium sized house’s electricity needs for a whole year.
On 8-10 October, Carbon Zero, a St Asaph company, will be at the reserve fitting the solar thermal panels to the roof of the Coffee Shop. The Visitor Centre and the trails will be open as usual.
Julian Hughes, RSPB Conwy Reserve Manager said, “Our greening programme has already reduced our electricity consumption by 20% - we hope that our solar thermal system will reduce this further, meaning less greenhouse gasses emitted and more money for wildlife conservation, not for the electricity companies!”
Gareth Jones, Managing Director of renewable energy suppliers Carbon Zero UK, said: “We are installing two solar thermal panels on the roof and also hot water tanks with increased capacity of 300 litres and this should provide virtually all the hot water they need.
“We’re delighted to be involved in such an important contract for a prestigious organisation like the RSPB and I think they’re happy that it’s a North Wales company that is providing the installation and maintenance as well.”
Conwy Connections benefits from £178,705 from Communities and Nature, a strategic project led and managed by the Countryside Council for Wales and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
In addition, volunteers from RSPB Conwy Support Group raised over £30,000 in less than two years to assist the match-funding effort by the charity. The fundraising effort continues and includes money raised by Tesco customers through the Wales Carrier Bag Levy and from local charitable trusts.
Conwy receives up to 90,000 visitors every year, including up to 3,000 children and their families, and is a well-established attraction for tourists to North Wales. The support offered by CAN will help RPSB Cymru increase visitors to the site that in turn should increase visitor spending in the surrounding area.
CAN Assistant Project Officer, Charlotte Barnet said: “The reserve is an excellent resource for the local communities that live nearby as well a tourist attraction that can help boost the local economy bringing people to the area to see the wonderful landscape and array of birdlife at the site.”
Conwy Connections is an initiative part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and is a component element of the Countryside Council for Wales' Communities and Nature strategic project.
RSPB Cymru would like to thank those whose donations support RSPB Conwy nature reserve and visitor facilities, including The Crown Estate, Cemlyn Jones Trust, Environment Wales, Tesco Plc, Conwy Town Council and the RSPB Conwy Support Group.
For more information about Conwy Connections, please visit http://tinyurl.com/77d69f9. RSPB Conwy is open from 9.30 am - 5 pm every day. For details contact the RSPB on 01492 584091 or www.rspb.org.uk/conwy
1. European Structural Funds in Wales: The EU’s European Regional Development Fund is part of the £3.4bn Structural Funds programmes 2007-2013 aimed at creating economic, social and environmental improvements for people, business and communities across Wales. For more information visit www.wefo.wales.gov.uk
2. Communities and Nature is a £14.5m European Funded Project led and managed by CCW and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Assembly Government. Its aim is to use our natural environment in Wales to create economic opportunities through leisure and tourism - providing valuable, sustainable jobs in areas and communities where they are needed.
3. Conwy Connections initiative includes:
• play spaces for youngsters, using natural materials and their own imaginations; among the features planned are den-building, a secret tunnel, a “roly poly” bank and mud bath
• an elevated area providing views across the lagoons
• new wildlife habitat, created by planting native wild flowers and bushes
• a new picnic area and events space for the popular Farmers’ Markets and Gardeners’ Markets
• an observation room overlooking one of the reserve’s lagoons – a green building, built out of straw bales
• solar thermal installation in the coffee shop
• an improved car park
• art installation at the entrance of the reserve
• new interpretation around the reserve and in the hides