Gloucestershire

Aviary plan for Slimbridge wildlife trust submitted

Slimbridge Wetland Centre Image copyright WWT Slimbridge
Image caption WWT Slimbridge wants to demolish a 50-year-old tropical house and replace it with a 2,000 sqm (21,527 sqft) walk-through aviary

Plans for a new £1.5m walk-through aviary at a nature reserve in Gloucestershire have been submitted by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT).

WWT Slimbridge wants to demolish a 50-year-old tropical house and replace it with a 2,000 sqm (21,527 sqft) aviary.

The installation is part of a £4.4m funding award announced by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in 2016.

The WWT said it was "sorry" to see the tropical house go but its replacement will be "much better equipped".

It currently houses around 20 birds and up to 40 fish. The trust said half the birds will be moved to the new aviary while the remaining wildlife will be transferred to zoos and private collections.

Image copyright WWT Slimbridge
Image caption An attached open-air "living wetland theatre" will offer visitors the chance to get close to free-flying pelicans and diving whistling ducks
Image copyright Slimbridge Wetland Centre
Image caption The "much-loved" tropical house is expected to be demolished in September

The new aviary will house and conserve a range of Slimbridge species including avocet and black-tailed godwit and bearded tits - rarely seen in Gloucestershire, the trust said.

An attached open-air "living wetland theatre" will also offer visitors the chance to get close to free-flying pelicans and diving whistling ducks.

Peter Morris, from WWT Slimbridge, said the decision to knock-down the "much-loved" tropical house in September had been "difficult".

"It has been there for 50 years and it's a beautiful lush little area but it's going to be replaced with a huge aviary that's about the size of eight tennis courts," he said

'Aviary opening 2020'

"We know we've got the wildlife but it's about bringing it to more people."

Gary Haseley-Nejrup, from the trust, said the tropical house had been a "stalwart in the Slimbridge landscape" and they will be "very sorry to see it go".

"We've ensured the replacement will be much better equipped to house vulnerable species, will be fully accessible to people with limited mobility and offer an enhanced experience for visitors," he said.

If approved, construction work will begin next year, ahead of the aviary opening in 2020.

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