SURREY County Council have moved into a new phase in an agreement with Surrey Wildlife Trust to improve visitor facilities throughout the county while also saving money for local residents.
A cabinet meeting at the county council over Christmas gave the green light to plans which will see the two organisations explore commercial opportunities such as filming, catering and sponsorship to fund the cost of managing Surrey’s countryside.
The council contributes around £1million a year to the trust, who manage Surrey County Council’s countryside estate on their behalf.
The long-term aim is to see the sites generate enough money to become self sufficient, freeing up funds to improve facilities for an enhanced visitor experience.
Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning, Mike Goodman, said: “This initiative is excellent news for the county and its residents. It means everyone will be able to continue to enjoy our countryside but the cost will eventually be taken off the local taxpayer.
“This is vital at a time when residents and the council are battling against the tough economic climate. Initiatives like this are essential to us to manage the countryside we all value at a time when we face huge financial challenges, such as the £215m gap in Whitehall funding for the 13,000 extra school places we need to provide over the next five years.”
Surrey Wildlife Trust Chief Executive, Nigel Davenport, said his organisation are looking forward to working with the council to achieve these ambitions, which will be of “great benefit to all users of the countryside and will mean improved facilities and a better experience for everyone.”
He added: “Surrey Wildlife Trust are committed to the management of the countryside estate for people and for wildlife.”