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Community / New plans in for replacement Fair Isle Bird Observatory

Image: Colin Armstrong Architects

FRESH plans have been submitted for a new £7.4 million Fair Isle Bird Observatory after its design was reworked.

The trust which runs the facility already had planning permission for a replacement observatory, but its team had to go back to the drawing board after the tender for the work came back too expensive.

The Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust confirmed at the weekend that fresh plans have now been submitted for a reworked design.

It all comes after the previous bird observatory burnt down in 2019.

The trust has appointed English company IDMH – or Ideal Modular Homes – to build the latest design.

It said the company was awarded the contract after a “lengthy and rigorous tender process”.

It had previously been hoped that construction for the project, which has already secured more than £2 million in funding in addition to over £650,000 from the public, could get underway in the summer.

The latest plan is for a modular building which will largely be constructed off Fair Isle. It has been designed by Colin Armstrong Architects.

The new design is said to be “much closer to the arrangements of the previous observatory”, which was built in 2010.

Trust chair Douglas Barr wrote to Shetland Islands Council’s planning department in October to ask if the organisation could amend the existing consent to save time rather than submit a new, full application.

He said the project is under “significant timescale pressure” – noting there is a weather window associated with construction work in Fair Isle.

But the planning department confirmed new permission would be required as the design is “substantially different from the previous proposal”.