Amenity and Accessibility Fund Case Studies:
Waveney Bird Club
Minsmere, looking south to Sizewell (Photo credit: M Farrow)
The Amenity and Accessibility Fund (AAF) aims to improve the environment and natural character of the area by conserving habitats and species and improving sustainable access to the area.
The AAF is being managed by EDF, East Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council in consultation with Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape who administers the fund.
It was developed because the Dry Fuel Store may delay the return of part of the Sizewell B site to other uses. The site would otherwise have been expected to be restored in keeping with the surrounding Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape designated landscape.
Any individuals, organisations or community groups can apply for funding
from the AAF if they can demonstrate their project meets the objectives of the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape, with additional criteria to improve the accessibility of the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape or conserve or enhance the local amenity.
For the 2021-22 funding year, £2,384.90 has been awarded to Waveney Bird Club to help build a path to enable full access for everyone from RSPB Minsmere’s North wall to East Hide adjacent to the Environment Agency sea defence wall.
The East Hide offers spectacular viewing opportunities at Minsmere. The funding from the AAF will help to provide important resting spots, screening, and signage along the accessible path to the hide. The project will be overseen jointly by the RSPB and Waveney Bird Club, with all works set to be completed by the end of March 2022.
Constructing passing lay-bys along the route, including benches and resting stops, will provide opportunities for visitors using mobility scooters, wheelchairs, and
walking aids, plus those with buggies and prams, to pause on their way to the hide, improving accessibility.
Additionally, new reed panel screens will screen pedestrians from sensitive areas of The Scrape, so birds are not inadvertently flushed which can spoil the enjoyment of others. Existing signage will also be repaired to enhance the overall visitor experience.
Steve Piotrowski from Waveney Bird Club said: “I have been campaigning and fundraising for many years, but never been involved in a project that ticks so many boxes.
Once the path is complete, it will provide access and birdwatching opportunities to RSPB Minsmere’s premier birdwatching hide to those less mobile. It will also help to safeguard the fragile dune system by minimising pedestrian traffic flow and provide a public footpath for all if the beach is further minimised by encroachment by the sea.
It is anticipated that the new path will result in an increased traffic flow to
and from the East Hide, so the grant will help us provide resting opportunities, as well as screening those approaching, from the wildlife being
enjoyed by people already present in the hide”.
Nick Forster, Senior Site Manager RSPB Minsmere said: “We are delighted that the Waveney Bird Club has initiated this project to enable access for all to the celebrated East Hide at Minsmere.
The hide provides some of the finest wildlife watching on the Suffolk Coast and was built to allow access for all, but unfortunately the route to the hide presents some barriers, with loose material on the dunes and steps to climb over the old sea defences.
The plans being developed by Waveney Bird Club with the RSPB would overcome these barriers and would also enable access to the hide, even following flooding after a surge tide event, something that is currently not possible”.