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THE £5 million transformation of Sumburgh Head lighthouse into a top visitor attraction will get under way later this year after the Scottish government provided the final piece of funding.
Enterprise and tourism minister Jim Mather announced on Monday a £1.44 million European Regional Development Fund grant which will move the project from the planning to the construction phase.
Shetland Amenity Trust has spent 10 years working on plans to refurbish the almost 200 year old lighthouse, gradually piecing together public funding for their ambitious plans.
The trust wants to convert the lighthouse, built in 1821 by Robert Stevenson, the grandfather of the famous author, into self-catering holiday accommodation alongside a visitor and exhibition centre.
Sitting on top of the world famous seabird cliffs at Sumburgh Head, the trust is also planning to attach an educational centre to the historic buildings, from where to study Shetland’s varied marine life.
Trust manager Jimmy Moncrieff said on Tuesday that he was delighted to start 2011 with a complete funding package in place.
“It’s going to be a three year project and will be of huge importance the whole Ness area. Without the ERDF funding we would not be able to proceed. It is a great way to start the new year,” he said.
The project will also receive £683,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £1.5 million from Shetland Development Trust, £300,000 from London-based charity the Wolfson Foundation, and £200,000 from Highland and Islands Enterprise.
Further funding under the Scottish Rural Development Fund (SRDF) is expected to be announced soon.
Mr Mather said: “The development of visitor attractions like the facilities at Sumburgh Head will ensure tourists continue to enjoy a superb visitor experience when they spend time travelling across the region.”
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