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Row over site for St Kilda centre

2 November 09 12:10 GMT

A row has blown up over the selection of a site for a new visitor centre dedicated to the St Kilda archipelago 41 miles away on the Western Isles.

Consultants appointed to appraise possible locations have recommended Mangersta in Uig.

Cleitreval in North Uist and Leverburgh in Harris were also considered.

A working group representing Harris's bid claim the criteria used to assess each location was changed and want to re-submit its plans.

It has given the project's steering group a deadline of 1700 GMT on Monday to reassess the consultants' recommendation.

The steering group, which has to make a final decision on a preferred location, said it would consider Harris's request at its next meeting.

Representatives of the North Uist bid said they were considering whether to follow Harris in calling for another chance to re-apply.

Local councillor and North Uist group spokesman Uisdean Robertson said: "It is like entering a competition where the rules are changed half way through."

Western Isles Council - Comhairle nan Eilean Siar - ruled out building on St Kilda's main island Hirta because of the distance tourists would have to make to reach the centre. Bad weather can restrict access to the remote islands group.

The centre plan has still to progress through the comhairle's decision-making process, before a final decision is taken to press ahead with a preferred site.

It still has to be considered by the sustainable development committee and full council. Other public bodies will also be asked to look at the proposal.

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