AN iconic eco-friendly North Wales attraction is resurrecting plans for an ambitious £1million sustainable expansion project.

Anglesey Sea Zoo hopes to start work on the extension to their premises at Brynsiencyn, on the Menai Strait, at the end of this year.

The eco-build project will double the current size of the facility, which lies on the Anglesey Coastal path in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with views across the Snowdonia mountain range.

Owner Frankie Hobro will speak about her green credentials and her plans for the popular attraction and research centre at Net Zero 2021, a major online business conference which aims to encourage private sector and not for profit organisations across the Wirral, Cheshire and North Wales to reduce their carbon footprints.

The free conference has been organised by the North Wales Mersey Dee Business Council for Thursday, May 20th, and Frankie is among a roster of speakers which includes major players such as Airbus, NatWest, Siemens and Iceland as well as small and medium sized businesses from across the region.

Frankie’s plans for a greener future for the Sea Zoo had to be put on hold last year when the pandemic hit, although she had obtained outline planning approval and had secured funding for the project with plans in place, but she’s determined to press ahead now with the end of lockdown in sight.

The planned new eco-build will be dug into the field adjacent to the current business premises and built sustainably through maximising natural light and the use of ground source heat, with over a mile of pipe buried a metre down to carry water heated by the rich local soil and capable of transforming the winter chill of ground temperatures as low as 4C to a positively tropical 35oC

She said: “We were all set for the project to start, with a funder in place when we had to shelve the plans because of the pandemic but I’m confident that the expansion will still go ahead once restrictions are relaxed, particularly with the current green push for carbon neutral development and growth coming out of the pandemic.  

Frankie Hobro, of Anglesey Sea Zoo

“It will be a completely sustainable building and will double the current size of the Sea Zoo, quadruple the café area, provide new indoor education areas and a conference facility.

“There is also a very exciting element to the new expansion which will be a first not only in North Wales, but globally, providing a desperately needed boost to the economy of Anglesey through employment opportunities and as a unique one-of-a-kind indoor Sea Zoo experience.

“In normal times during speak season we have between 20 and 30 permanent staff here and over 50 with seasonal staff included. This expansion will create many more permanent and seasonal roles and will bring the whole business close to being completely Net Zero.

“The fact that we pump all our water in from the Menai Strait on our doorstep and have made the exhibits all from the seas around the UK make us sustainable and ethical as an attraction, and in 2017 I fitted 50kw of PV panels which made us the first solar powered aquarium. But this expansion will improve our Net Zero credentials even further whilst bringing an exciting new all-weather experience to the island.”

Frankie’s background is in conservation and the Sea Zoo also carries out important research and protection projects for endangered British marine species with a captive breeding programme for some of the rarest creatures in our seas.

These include both species of native seahorse, and the Common lobster which they are already releasing back into the waters as well as its Spiny cousin which is close to being reintroduced to the seas off North Wales after becoming virtually extinct.

Anglesey’s other major contributor to the conference is the adrenaline-fuelled high octane RibRide, based on the Menai Straits, which is aiming to cut its carbon as the UK’s first Blue Flag marine business.

RibRide’s 100 kilometre-per-hour Velocity is the world’s fastest passenger rib – rigid inflatable boat – and blasts customers around the coast of Anglesey at speeds of over 60mph.

But now the successful 10-year-old tourism business is keen to stress its green credentials which include its fleet of e-foils, surfboards skimming the waves above an electrically-powered hydrofoil wing charged from renewable sources.

Boss Phil Scott will join Frankie Hobro at the Net Zero conference and Ashley Rogers, Commercial Director of event organisers the North Wales Mersey Dee Business Council, said: “We want to recognise the companies that are already leading the way towards Net Zero and celebrate their role as pathfinders to this goal, inspiring other businesses to follow suit.”

Organisations registering to attend are also invited to apply for the first Net Zero Leaders Awards, with winners announced during the conference, showcasing their track record and best practice in reducing environmental impact across their businesses. 

The region’s Net Zero Leaders will be chosen across three categories, micro business/start-up, small business and medium/large business categories by a distinguished panel of judges.

At the conference the line-up of contributors and supporters also includes Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Harlech Foodservice, Innovate UK and the Carbon Trust – as well as Kier, Tata Steel, AMRC Cymru, ClwydAlyn Housing, CITB and Development Bank Wales.

Themes include Energy and Transport, Manufacturing, Tourism and Hospitality, Food and Retail and Buildings and Construction and the event runs from 9:30am to 3.45pm on Thursday, May 20.

Among the judges for the Net Zero Leaders is Owen Hughes, Business Editor for the Daily Post/Business Live, who said: “Dealing with climate change is a huge challenge that is becoming more and more urgent by the day and North Wales and the Mersey Dee regions have the natural resources, the manufacturing capability and the skilled workforce to become world leaders in the new green economy.

Ashley Rogers added: “Our main aim, given the challenge of improving business performance whilst getting to Net Zero Carbon is one every business faces, is to provide inspiration, information and best practice examples and advice for businesses on their journey to Net Zero.

“We are so well-placed here because we have a major city in Liverpool with its airport and port, easy connections to the national motorway network, advanced manufacturing on the North East Wales-Cheshire border and fantastic natural resources in terms of wind and tidal power right across the North Wales and Mersey Dee area.

For more details and to book free tickets go to https://netzero2021.eventbrite.co.uk