Page last updated at 11:04 GMT, Monday, 14 September 2009 12:04 UK

Botanic garden to 'remain free'

GLasshouse at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
There is already a fee of 3.50 to enter the glasshouses in the garden

Visitors to the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh have been assured the gardens are to remain free, following reports an entry fee was to be introduced.

Professor Stephen Blackmore, the Inverleith garden's Regius Keeper, said they would not be making a charge despite facing a financial shortfall.

The botanic gardens are waiting to hear how much of its £1.2m it will receive back from a collapsed Icelandic bank.

It hopes to make extra revenue from new shops and a restaurant it has built.

The RGBE put £1.2m into Icelandic bank Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander, before it went into administration last October.

So far administrators have paid back 20p in the pound and RGBE remains hopeful it will regain at least 50p in the pound.

Freely accessible

Professor Blackmore told the BBC Scotland news website that RBGE's board of trustees had suggested a £4 entry fee in a report to the Scottish Government, in a bid to recoup losses but that the idea had been rejected.

He said: "The trustees are not in a position to impose a charge as they have been told the garden is required to be freely accessible to the public.

"Almost all the botanic gardens in the country charge an entry fee and so the trustees had mooted the idea to Environment Minister Richard Lochhead but he ruled it out as he didn't want there to be a charge.

"It is frustrating that smaller charities who had money with the Icelandic bank were refunded by the government and we weren't."

He added that he hoped the government would help with the financial shortfall. He also said the new John Hope Gateway visitor centre, which opens on 7 October at the site, would help bring in extra money.

The RBGE has been at Inverleith since 1820.

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