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Dounreay Visitor Centre Will Not Open In 2007

9th March 2007

Old age and severe weather have taken their toll on the seasonal visitor centre at Dounreay. The former World War Two air traffic control tower was damaged during
severe flooding in November.

Further deterioration in its condition over the winter months has led to its closure being brought forward.

Dounreay will now concentrate on providing a new exhibition about the site decommissioning as part of a multi-million pound visitor development in Thurso.

In 2002, when UKAEA looked at options for modernising the visitor centre, the existing facility overlooking the site was deemed beyond economic repair. The cost then was estimated to be 500,000. At the same time, the Highland Council was looking for support for a major new community and visitor attraction planned for Thurso and Dounreay gave 500,000 towards the cost of this instead.

Caithness Horizons is scheduled to open in 2008, and the existing centre was patched up to keep it running until the end of the 2007 summer season. But the building - hurriedly erected almost 70 years ago when Dounreay became a naval aerodrome - has deteriorated significantly over the winter. The money saved by bringing forward its closure will be reallocated to decommissioning work at the site.

"The guides who staffed the facility each summer did an excellent job for the site and I am sorry we won't be able to provide them with one last season of work," said Colin Punler, site communications manager.

"But there comes a point in the life of any building when it doesn't make sense to invest more money and sadly we have now reached that the point with the old control tower. The nett effect on employment should be neutral, however, because the money will be used to sustain decommissioning work instead.

"Although the fast reactor experiment is over and the site now in the throes of demolition, it is important the site keeps open the channels of communication. The closure of the visitor centre leaves a gap in those communications, so the site is now looking at relocating off-site some other aspect of its communications."

For the new centre to open in 2008 see
Caithness Horizons


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