National Marine Centre plans unveiled

THE Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick has been showing off its proposals for a National Marine Centre.

The charity said the project, which will cost around £5.5million, focuses on delivering “new and enhanced education and conservation programmes”. It will “transform” the Seabird Centre to explore marine life above and below water and provide a national hub to “increase appreciation and understanding” of Scotland’s marine wildlife. The centre, which is planned to open in 2020, will also communicate marine research taking place nationwide.

Grace Martin, project director explained, “The Scottish Seabird Centre currently offers visitors an opportunity to engage with nature in a sustainable way. As a conservation and education charity, we welcome 4,000 school children a year and lead projects such as SOS Puffin.

“But, as with all charities, we must move with the times to remain viable and to achieve our objectives of inspiring people to care for wildlife and the natural environment. We have more education requests that we can accommodate and visitor expectations are at an all-time-high. Our vision is to create a centre that is of national significance and one that the local community is proud of.”

Simpson and Brown, architects of the original Seabird Centre, have been working with Event Communications to develop the plans. An advisory group, led by Professor John Baxter, is providing input on marine-related content. Professor Baxter, Principal Advisor – Marine, at Scottish Natural Heritage and a trustee of the Seabird Centre said, “The marine environment of Scotland supports a fantastic array of habitats and wildlife. Under the surface of the seas is a hidden and very special world that we want to reveal and bring to life, for people of all ages, in exciting and engaging ways.

“Scottish universities are at the cutting-edge of marine environment research but there are at present limited opportunities for the public to share in this work. Through public engagement we know there is a high level of interest in our seas, coasts and wildlife. This new attraction will provide an immersive and interactive experience, communicating the latest research and inspiring people to look after our natural world. It is vital that we protect and conserve our seas and their wildlife for future generations.”