Severe lack of open car parks, toilets and catering facilities puts visitors and residents in the area of outstanding natural beauty at risk, Norfolk Coast Partnership says.
Following the government’s announcement on Sunday 10 May that people can ‘drive to other destinations’, the people, communities and wildlife of the Norfolk Coast are asking visitors not to visit at the present time to avoid an influx in visitors over the forthcoming bank holiday weekend.
The Norfolk Coast Partnership was set up to work in partnership with local communities and all relevant organisations to safeguard the special character of the area. Norfolk Wildlife Trust is a member and supports this plea to delay visiting the coast.
At Holme Dunes and Cley Marshes, all car parks, toilets, hides and visitor centres are closed. The nature reserve is also closed at Holme; the same applies for Cley, although there are footpaths still accessible. Full list of closures is available on our coronavrius page
With the severe lack of provision on the coast for visitors, there are fears that there will be traffic issues, and social distancing will be difficult to maintain.
It is also a critical time of year for ground nesting birds, which are just settling down to nest and – taking advantage of lack of footfall – are often nesting in places they may not normally. A sudden influx of visitors puts the fragile nature of the coast at risk, as well as the local communities that live and work here.
Estelle Hook, Manager of the Norfolk Coast Partnership said: “While it is not in the nature of the Norfolk Coast Partnership to encourage people to stay away, it is currently vital that we do so to ensure these special places are not overwhelmed. In many places on the coast there is not the infrastructure to support the necessary social distancing or to ensure that visitors have the facilities they would usually expect, such as car parks or toilets.”
She added: “Partners across the coast have convened a working group to look at ways of making access as safe as possible going forward. The organisations responsible for looking after this wonderful coast continue to do so and are keen to welcome visitors back once facilities are open and working but at the present time it is safer to stay away.”
Pamela Abbott, Chief Executive at Norfolk Wildlife Trust said: “NWT and other organisations are working hard to put safety measures in place for social distancing, protecting wildlife and reopening provisions such as car parks. This week NWT opened the car parks at seven nature reserves around Norfolk but at the moment we encourage you to enjoy your local outdoor spaces and come to the coast and the Broads when we are better able to welcome you.”