A POPULAR nature attraction which gives visitors the chance to get up close to wildlife could be about to be improved thanks to a £35,000 boost.
Tata Steel, formerly Corus which runs a plant in Hartlepool, is set to give the money as a grant to create a new footpath and viewing area overlooking seals at Greatham Creek, on the outskirts of the town.
The plans include installing a new gate from the National Nature Reserve car park, off the A178 Tees Road south of Seaton Carew, to a wheelchair-accessible footpath.
It will lead to a new elevated viewing platform and educational information boards that will let visitors view seals on the Greatham Creek mudflats without causing any disturbance to them or to birds.
A planning application is due to be lodged this month, and if successful, it is hoped work will be completed before the end of the summer.
Dave Nicol, Tata Steel works manager for Teesside, said: “If planning permission is granted this project will make huge improvements to the visitor experience at Greatham Creek while respecting the needs of wildlife and the local environment.
“For the first time, visitors to Greatham Creek would be able to safely access a purpose-built viewing platform to observe the seals on the mudflats in perfect harmony with the animals and the local environment.”
The £35,000 grant will come from Tata Steel’s landfill tax credit Communities Funding programme and will be delivered by the Tees Industry Nature Conservation Association (INCA) in partnership with the RSPB.
Tata Steel says the facility could also be used by schoolchildren for visits.
INCA director Bob Pailor added: “The presence of increasing numbers of seals is a demonstration of the return to life of the Tees Estuary.
“It is powerful evidence that industry and wildlife can live and flourish alongside each other.”