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New observatory site in pipeline

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By Fiona Reid
New observatory site in pipeline

NEGOTIATIONS are ongoing for a new site for the The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory (SDSO).

The trustees have confirmed it won’t be rebuilt at its original location on the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park border, near Dalmellington.

Poor access, lack of services and facilities mean it would not be financially sustainable there in the long term, according to the findings of third-party consultants brought in to consider the options.

Instead the trust is in discussions about other spots, but are unable to disclose where yet due to commercial sensitivity.

A statement from the board said: “For the last several months we have been exploring a number of new site options, a task made more challenging because of our specific set of requirements. A new site not only requires dark skies free from light pollution, but it is also vital that it offers greatly improved visitor access, the provision of mains power and water supplies, communications, and the ability to ensure the security of both the site and the building.

“We will be investing a considerable sum in a new observatory. We will also need to raise additional funding to achieve our goal of creating an enhanced facility, even more ambitious than before, to protect the future viability of the project.

“As such, the trustees have a duty of responsibility to the charitable business to ensure that the investment is made wisely and has the best possible opportunity and conditions in which to achieve the highest levels of success. The new observatory must be financially self-sustainable throughout future years for the benefit of many future generations.”

They acknowledge the disappointment locally and appealed to residents to understand the situation, adding: “We fully recognise how valuable the new SDSO will be as an educational and tourism asset, not just for the south-west, but for the whole of Scotland and beyond. We will continue to take a considered and measured approach in order to achieve the best possible future outcomes for the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory.”

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