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SIC - Free Tyre Check - 22 Nov 2019

Community / May hints at support for rebuilding Fair Isle Bird Observatory

The ruin of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory still smouldering on Wednesday.

PRIME minister Theresa May has indicated that government help for rebuilding the Fair Isle Bird Observatory could be made available.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Question Time in parliament on Wednesday May responded to a question by Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael when he asked her if the government would commit to supporting the community in Fair Isle after the important observatory was destroyed by fire at the weekend.

Isles MP Alistair Carmichael in Parliament on Wednesday.

The prime minister said: “I would like to send my deepest sympathy to all those who work in and indeed visit the observatory. This will obviously be devastating, as he says, to the local community.

“I would like to offer my praise to the work of the local fire and coast guard services for all their efforts in bringing the fire under control.

“I understand that the building he is referring to is comprehensively insured so they are not seeking additional funding at this time, but I will ask a minister from the Scotland Office to meet with the Rt. Hon. Gentleman to see whether any further support can be provided.”

The Shetland and Orkney MP described the loss of the bird observatory as “heartbreaking for the community in Fair Isle”.

Carmichael added: “Obviously the community will need time to come to terms with what has happened but I hope that the observatory will be rebuilt.

“I was pleased that the prime minister was prepared to indicate support for that effort.  There is a precedent here – the UK and Scottish governments are helping to rebuild Glasgow Art School, and rightly so.

“I welcome the prime minister’s willingness to engage in this important issue, and look forward to meeting with the Scottish Secretary to discuss what can be done to ensure that this vital resource is not lost to the community, and to all who care about our seabird population around the world.”