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Support for St Kilda centre site

16 November 09 16:44 GMT

A group leading plans to create a visitor centre dedicated to the St Kilda islands has reaffirmed its backing for the recommended site.

Consultants suggested that Mangersta in Uig on Lewis was the best option.

Supporters of locating the centre at Cleitreval in North Uist and Leverburgh in Harris have claimed the criteria used to gauge the bids was changed.

However, the multi-agency St Kilda Centre Working Group said the process Jura Consultants followed was "fair".

Building on St Kilda's main island Hirta has been ruled out because of the distance tourists would have to make to reach the centre. Bad weather can restrict access to the remote islands group.

'Hard work'

The working group - which includes representatives from Western Isles Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar - considered the complaints from the Cleitreval and Leverburgh groups.

It said it believed the feasibility study process was "fair and transparent" and that there was no justification to halt the process or re-score the submissions.

The group praised the quality of each of the bids.

Angus McCormack, St Kilda Centre Working Group chairman, said he hoped all would now work together.

He said: "It is vitally important to stress that this project is very much in its infancy and will require the bringing together of a wide local, national and international group to deliver the vision.

"All the communities who may benefit from this project will be invited to engage with the next steps in the process."

He added: "I believe that the hard work communities have put into their proposals can contribute to the wider vision for the St Kilda centre in the Outer Hebrides and be of direct benefit to these communities."

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