A £200,000 project to upgrade the busy car park at a north-east nature reserve will get under way next week.
Following “years of planning”, work to improve the St Cyrus National Nature Reserve (NNR) car park will begin on Tuesday.
The works have been made possible through support from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council.
The car park will be made bigger, with clearly marked bays – which will accommodate vehicles that are currently forced to park along the roadside.
More than that, the project will also involve upgrading the toilet facilities and creating an enhanced accessible toilet with a hoist and changing table.
The plans also include cycle parking, EV charging and chemical waste disposal for camper vans.
It comes after staff at St Cyrus NNR said it “got pretty chaotic” last summer, with visitors struggling to squeeze into the current car park.
In July, those at the nature reserve reminded visitors that it was “really really busy” and that “there are simply not enough spots to everyone”.
They were also forced to advise people not to park in laybys “as it creates gridlock”.
Ambulance unable to bypass cars
In the same month. an ambulance was blocked from reaching a casualty at St Cyrus Beach due to the the amount of cars parked along verges.
Now, those behind the project say that the upgrades will “give visitors a welcoming safe arrival with clear entrances, exits and bays” – all due to be completed by spring 2022.
As the start of the construction works approach, staff have warned visitors that there will be a reduced area available for parking and there may be short periods when the car park is closed altogether.
Therese Alampo, St Cyrus NNR manager, said: “It’s going to be so exciting to finally see the carpark improvements taking shape, offering visitors a welcoming safe arrival with clear entrances, exits and bays.
‘It will make a big difference to visitor experience’
“It will be a much more fitting way to start their stay on this wonderful NNR. We’d ask everyone to bear with us while work is underway and to understand that we will have reduced capacity for parking during this time.”
Jo Robinson, VisitScotland regional director for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, added: “I am delighted to see work beginning on this important project – I live locally and the beach is one of my favourite places to visit with my family, so I have seen first-hand some of the challenges that have arisen here around visitor management.
“Once complete, the car park and associated new facilities will be a very welcome addition and make a big difference to the visitor experience.”