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Community / Expected opening of new Fair Isle Bird Observatory pushed back to autumn 2023

Image: Colin Armstrong Architects

THE PLANNED opening date of the new Fair Isle Bird Observatory has been pushed back due to delays with the rebuild process.

The original plan was to open in spring next year, but it has now been moved back to the autumn of 2023.

Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust chairman Douglas Barr said in an update on Friday: “Whilst we are now making good progress on the site itself, there is still considerable work to be undertaken before the Obs is completed.

“This will take some time particularly given the increased challenges we now face regarding weather.”

He said bookings will not be taken until late spring 2023 at the earliest.

“The exact dates for both will be announced in due course on our website, and members of ‘Friends of Fair Isle’ will receive advance notification of them,” Barr continued.

“As regards the recruitment of new permanent staff, this process will now be undertaken in early spring 2023. In due course, we will contact all persons who have already indicated an interest to inform them of the relevant dates.”

The previous bird observatory burned down in a fire in 2019, with the rebuild taking place on the same site.

The new building is being constructed from modular units, and the first delivery of six took place in October after a significant weather delay.

Shetland Islands Council’s harbourmaster Greg Maitland told elected members this week, however, that not all relevant paperwork was submitted for the barge transfer from Kirkwall.

But the bird observatory trust had engaged positively with the authorities since concern was raised, councillors were told. 

The remaining 34 modules are due to be taken to Fair Isle on smaller boats in reduced numbers due to weather constraints.

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