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Walk through Islands Deal proposals for World Heritage Site

Date: 24 September 2021

Ring of Brodgar in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.

Orkney people are being invited to walk through ‘Islands Deal’ proposals for future management of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site (WHS) to help ensure developments strengthen the sense of connection locals have with the wonders left behind by past islanders and protect them for future generations.

The proposals, known as the Orkney Gateway Programme, are aimed at providing a more in depth experience for visitors and locals alike across the WHS and generate opportunities for local people through a more responsible and sustainable approach to tourism.

The Programme is being funded with joint investment of up to £6.5 million from the Scottish Government and UK Government (SG £5.5 million/UKG £1 million), as part of the Islands Growth Deal – a ten-year investment programme jointly funded by the UK and Scottish governments, the three Island Councils and their partners from the public, academic and business sectors.

Two in-person sessions will be held in the first week of October where people can be guided through the Orkney Gateway Programme proposals with representatives from programme partners Orkney Island Council (OIC), Historic environment Scotland (HES) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) along with project consultants Fourth Street.

Leader of Orkney Islands Council, James Stockan, says the chance to speak directly with the Orkney public is a major milestone for the Programme, which represents years of hard work by partners to explore possible improvements and secure investment from the UK and Scottish Governments through the Islands Deal.

“The Islands Deal commitment we have from the Scottish and UK Governments to support the Orkney Gateway is hugely gratifying and reflects the position our World Heritage Site holds as one of the jewels in Scotland’s and indeed the UK’s tourism crown – not to mention the global archaeological significance of the Site.

“But we must remember that at the core of this is a landscape and series of monuments which for many Orcadians is a direct, mysterious and powerful link to their past. And we know equally they are held very dear by people who’ve moved into these islands over the years.

“So as partners we are all very clear that we want to gather local people’s views on the range of options that we could bid for through our final ‘Islands Deal’ business case.

“This is a huge set of proposals and I’d urge and warmly welcome members of the Orkney public along to these vitally important feedback-gathering sessions.”

The in-person consultation events planned for early October are:

  • Tuesday 5 October at Maeshowe Visitor Centre, Stenness from 17.00 – 21.00
  • Wednesday 6 October at St Magnus Centre, Kirkwall from 13.00 – 17.00

Project consultants as well as representatives from HES, OIC and HIE will be on hand to walk people through a series of information boards, discuss the options and answer questions at the in-person consultation events.

These information boards are available at www.orkney.gov.uk/orkneygateway, along with detailed information on the Programme and an online survey. Comments can be also be emailed to worldheritage@orkney.gov.uk or posted to Orkney World Heritage Site Gateway Consultation, Development and Infrastructure, Orkney Islands Council, Council Offices, Kirkwall, Orkney KW15 1NY.

Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland, Alex Paterson, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to enhance the visitor experience around the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, while balancing environmental and conservation concerns. This consultation gives the local community an opportunity to have their say on how the Orkney Gateway Programme should develop, strengthening their engagement with their own heritage.”

Julie Gibson, @ThinkUHI lecturer and Orkney county archaeologist said: "We welcome this consultation, led by Orkney Islands Council. The university enabled the recognition of the world-class archaeology, which these three islands groups have in abundance, in the Islands Deal."

The Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site includes world-famous Skara Brae, Ring of Brodgar, Stones of Stenness and Maeshowe chambered tomb.

The Orkney Gateway Programme proposals include measures such as improved signage, technology to monitor visitor numbers in real time and ‘apps’ to suggest alternative attractions, ‘active travel’ routes, e-bike chargers and welcome facilities, alongside coach permits and charging at some car parks to help disperse tourism sustainably around the WHS and across Orkney and generate income towards conservation and management of the WHS.

Two of the key aims of the Programme are to foster a sense of ownership and connection to the landscape and monuments and to ensure their preservation for future generations.

The closing date for feedback is 15 October 2021 at 5pm which will enable partners to revise and submit the final Outline Business Case for the Orkney Gateway Programme to the UK and Scottish Governments before Christmas 2021.

Image: This wonderful image of the Ring of Brodgar has been kindly provided by the folks at orkney.com

 

  • Summary:

    Orkney people are being invited to walk through ‘Islands Deal’ proposals for future management of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site (WHS) to help ensure developments strengthen the sense of connection locals have with the wonders left behind by past islanders and protect them for future generations.

  • Category:
    • Consultations
    • Islands Deal

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

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