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Last Updated: Monday, 8 March, 2004, 15:48 GMT
Vast 15m butterfly dome planned
Blue Morpho butterfly
Clive Farrell wants the spectacular Blue Morpho in the Dome
The world's largest butterfly dome could be built in Hertfordshire.

The 15m tropical bubble, planned on 30 acres near St Albans, will boast more than 250,000 butterflies and has the backing of the district council.

The dome, equivalent in size to the smallest dome at the Eden Project in Cornwall, is the dream of property developer Clive Farrell.

He plans to use cash raised from his successful career as a property developer to launch the project.

Mr Farrell, 57, from Sherborne in Dorset, co-owns Butterfly World in Stratford-upon-Avon and jointly runs Florida's Butterfly World park at Coconut Creek, Fort Lauderdale.

Replica Mayan ruin

"This is my passion. I have been in property investment for some years and am now hopefully using some of my money to indulge my hobbies.

"It will be the sum total of all I have learned over the years - everything will go into this.

"We want a mini-Eden Project in terms of the mechanical appearance, but including the mystery and magic of an ancient civilisation, with secret passageways and references to a lost culture."

The dome, covering two acres, will feature a replica of a Mayan ruin near his butterfly farm in Belize.

"Visitors will be able to climb to the top of the tallest ruin and look down over the rainforest canopy, then walk along treetop jungle walkways."

Partially submerged

Waterfalls and a storm every hour will recreate an authentic tropical experience.

The abundant butterflies will be joined by humming birds, giant spiders, ants, grasshoppers and other birds.

He said the outer ring of the biome, which will be partly submerged in the ground, would be covered with wild flowers.

The translucent inner circle of the dome would cover the jungle area.

Fund-raising for the project will be led by the Butterfly World Charitable Trust, headed by Sir David Bellamy.

The trust is being formed to run the centre and distribute profits to other charities.

However, there is an obstacle to the plans, as the site is on green-belt land - which means the plans have to be referred to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott for approval.

If all goes well, Mr Farrell said construction would begin in about nine months with the project taking about a year to build.


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