Following a recent visit to RSPB Bempton Cliffs, Kevin Hollinrake MP, has become a species champion for the puffin to help raise awareness of the plight of this endangered seabird.
During a visit to the East Yorkshire nature reserve Mr Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, was given a guided tour of the award-winning reserve by Angela Belk, a volunteer at Bempton Cliffs for 25 years. Angela explained the history and heritage of the site and pointed out the eight key bird species that return each year to nest on the chalk ledges.
Like many visitors to the cliffs, puffins were high on the MP's must-see list and he was able to spot several puffins from the RSPB's main viewpoint on the clifftops. Having been won over by the reserve's most popular feathered visitor, Mr Hollinrake agreed to become the MP Species Champion for the puffin and support efforts to protect this endangered seabird.
Mr Hollinrake said: "This iconic seabird is very special and very precious, and it's wonderful that we can see it here, on the East Yorkshire coast. We should all be doing our utmost to protect it. I'm delighted to help the cause - and I think taking on this role is really going to impress my eight year old daughter, which is an added bonus."
MPs across England are being asked to step up for nature by becoming champions of threatened species found within their constituency. So far, there are 25 champions for species ranging from the Tansy beetle to the hen harrier. As champions, MPs will highlight the plight of their species and work being done to improve population levels. They will also be asked to take action in Parliament to support policies which are good for wildlife.
Mr Hollinrake was also impressed by the new £1.3 million Seabird Centre - made possible by funding from The Heritage Lottery Fund, Coastal Communities, Biffa, and LEADER - and the impact it has had on the local economy, attracting 90,000 visitors in its first year. During his visit, he went to three viewpoints on the cliff tops - including the newly refurbished Bartlett Nab. From here the MP could see Filey, part of his constituency.
He said: "This has got to be one of the most beautiful parts of the coast. The views are truly spectacular. And it's heartening to see the efforts being made to make the cliffs tops accessible to everyone. It's wonderful for wildlife and wonderful for tourism."
Mr Hollinrake later spoke with members of staff and took away information on the RSPB's demand for action on the second tranche of Marine Conservation Zones promised by the Government.
Keith Clarkson, Bempton Cliffs' site manager, said: "RSPB Bempton Cliffs is the most accessible place in the county to see puffins and we're delighted that Kevin Hollinrake has agreed to help us safeguard them for the future."
The Seabird Centre is open daily from 9.30 am-5 pm in summer, and from 9.30 am-4 pm in winter. For further information, visit www.rspb.org.uk/bemptoncliffs, call the reserve on 01262 422212 or like RSPB North Yorks & East Riding on Facebook.