As well as making the parking area bigger, the car park will also feature clearly marked bays to improve safety, traffic flow and its appearance within the reserve.
It will also help to accommodate vehicles which currently park along the roadside, which has caused problems in the past. The car park became gridlocked when visitors flocked to St Cyrus during the warm spell in July, and on one occasion cars parked along the roadside verge blocked access for an ambulance trying to reach a casualty on St Cyrus Beach.
In addition, the project will move the circulation of coaches away from the visitor centre and provide cycle parking, EV charging and chemical waste disposal for camper vans.
During construction there will be a reduced area available for parking and there may be short periods when the car park is closed altogether. Visitors should follow safety directions both along the minor access road and on site.
Work is scheduled to be complete by early spring 2022.
Therese Alampo, reserve manager, said: “It’s going to be so exciting to finally see the car park improvements taking shape, offering visitors a welcoming safe arrival with clear entrances, exits and bays.
"It will be a much more fitting way to start their stay on this wonderful NNR. We’d ask everyone to bear with us while work is underway and to understand that we will have reduced capacity for parking during this time.”
The improvements are being financed with a Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund grant to Aberdeenshire Council along with contributions from NatureScot and the Coastal Communities Fund.
Jo Robinson, VisitScotland regional director for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, added: “I’m delighted to see work beginning on this important project - I live locally and the beach is one of my favourite places to visit with my family, so I’ve seen first-hand some of the challenges that have arisen here around visitor management.
“Once complete, the car park and new facilities will be a very welcome addition and make a big difference to the visitor experience.”