Community / UK Government awards more than half a million of funding to Fair Isle bird observatory

Photo: Frazer Harvey

THE REBUILD of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory is to benefit from UK Government funding worth £550,000.

The money is coming from the government’s Community Ownership Fund.

It is the second time in a year significant funding has been awarded to Fair Isle from the UK Government.

At the start of the year it was announced that nearly £27 million had been awarded to Shetland Islands Council through the Levelling Up fund for a new ferry and harbour infrastructure.

Work is well underway on building a new Fair Isle bird observatory after the previous one succumbed to a large fire in 2019, with the building now wind and watertight.

Fire destroys Fair Isle Bird Observatory

It was announced in 2021 that the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise were putting around £2.35 million into the project, when it was then costed at £7.4 million.

The project is also being supported by the trust’s own funds, as well as an international crowdfunding appeal.


The Shetland Islands Council-administered Crown Estate Coastal Communities Fund and the Garfield Weston Foundation have also contributed to the project.

However, the rebuild project has suffered delays, including in transporting the building’s modular units to Fair Isle, and at the moment the trust which operates the bird observatory is planning to reopen in 2024.

A total of 17 Scottish projects are benefitting from the latest round of awards from the government’s community ownership fund.

The scheme is designed to support community groups in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to take ownership of assets and amenities at risk of being lost.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord said: “Through the fund we are now supporting 43 community groups across Scotland to the tune of £13.6 million to breathe new life into the places where they live, work and play.

“In total we are directly investing more than £2.7 billion in hundreds of projects across Scotland as we help grow our economy and level up the country.”

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