Essex: Springwatch star Michaela Strachan to open new visitor centre at Abberton Reservoir near Colchester

TELEVISION presenter Michaela Strachan will officially unveil a new wildlife visitor centre and nature reserve in Essex.

Ms Strachan, who has just finished filming Springwatch for the BBC, will open the Essex Wildlife Trust building at Abberton Reservoir near Colchester.

The 15-sided visitor complex has been built as part of a �150million project to increase the reservoir’s capacity by 15billion litres.

John Hall, chief executive of Essex Wildlife Trust, said: “We are delighted to welcome a wildlife champion like Michaela Strachan to Abberton Reservoir to carry out the official opening duties of our new visitor centre and reserve.

“We look forward to welcoming guests and the public to what should be a memorable day. Abberton is already a hugely significant site for wildlife and our new reserve will help make it even more crucial over the coming years.

“Our fabulous new visitor centre brings people closer to that wildlife. The trust’s vision is of a ‘Living Landscape’ where wildlife and people co-exist side by side, to mutual benefit, and Abberton is a fine example of that ideal.

“Together with Essex & Suffolk Water we are making Abberton Reservoir better for wildlife, better for people – and better for future generations.”

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Strachan will officially open the centre on Saturday and will be joined by the Mayor of Colchester and representatives from Layer-de-la-Haye Parish Council, Essex Birdwatching Society, Natural England, Abberton Management Committee and TJ Evers, who built the visitor centre.The opening ceremony will coincide with a special fair, which will include a birds of prey display, charity and trade stands, refreshments and a beer tent.

John Devall, operations director of Essex & Suffolk Water, said: “Abberton Reservoir is one of the most important sites in Europe for its wildlife and is also an essential part of the county’s infrastructure helping us supply water to more than a million people in Essex.

“The official opening of the visitor centre is a chance to celebrate this fantastic new facility, which provides a gateway to access this very special site.

“The relocation and enhancement of the visitor centre is part of the Abberton Scheme, which includes the expansion of the reservoir’s capacity by 58%.

“Guests at the opening event will also have the opportunity to learn more about this essential and major Scheme from the project team.”

The old visitor centre, opened in 1990, has been dismantled on low-lying land that will be flooded. The new visitor centre is on adjacent higher land, at the heart of an 80-acre nature reserve.

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