The Environment Secretary was in north Northumberland yesterday to hear about how plans for a new education and visitor centre at a nature reserve are progressing.
Liz Truss was at Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Hauxley reserve yesterday afternoon along with Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Berwick, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, and the Trust’s chief executive, Mike Pratt.
The wildlife charity is in the middle of its scheme to construct the new visitor centre, which will replace the previous building burnt down in an arson attack in June 2010.
Demolition of the old building took place last year, delayed slightly by great-crested newts and a pair of breeding barn owls, who liked the place so much, they nested there for two consecutive years.
This week, we also reported that following months of negotiations, the Trust now owns the 5.26 hectares of farmland and woodland adjoining the Hauxley reserve.
The land has been purchased with the money raised by its 2013 Hauxley Land Appeal and now that the purchase is complete, a team will start working on the new land, making improvements which will increase access for visitors and, needless to say, include habitat creation and improvements across the extension and existing parts of the reserve.
Earlier in the day Ms Truss addressed the Northern Farming Conference at the Hexham Auction Mart.
She said: “Although food and farming has a fantastic past, a fantastic heritage in this country, what I see is an industry with huge opportunities and huge change taking place. Some people seem to think that farming is a sunset industry. But I think it is a sunrise industry. It is an industry with huge amounts of opportunities.
“If we look at the contribution of food and farming to the economy, it generates £100billion a year. One in eight people is employed in food and farming. It’s our largest manufacturing sector. It is bigger than cars and aerospace put together.
“One of the things I am keen to do is get the message loud and clear across our government and across our country just how vital it is.”
She also spoke about the importance of tourism in the county and improving broadband provision.