Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, today raised the recent fire at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory with the Prime Minister.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr. Carmichael said:
“This Sunday, the community on Fair Isle in Shetland suffered a devastating blow when their world-renowned Bird Observatory was destroyed in a fire. The impact of an incident like that on an island community of fewer than residents is enormous, and they are still coming to terms with it.
“Will the Prime Minister join me in thanking all those who have lent support to the community in Fair Isle especially the firefighters who tackled the blaze and those who transported them? Will she commit her Government today to supporting the community in Fair Isle as look towards rebuilding this Observatory to ensure that this globally significant research resource so that it can get back into action as soon as possible?”
Responding, the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP, said:
“I would like to send my deepest sympathy to all those who work in and indeed visit the observatory. This will obviously be devastating, as he says, to the local community. I would like to offer my praise to the work of the local fire and coast guard services for all their efforts in bringing the fire under control.
“I understand that the building he is referring to is comprehensively insured so they are not seeking additional funding at this time, but I will ask a Minister from the Scotland Office to meet with the Rt. Hon. Gentleman to see whether any further support can be provided.”
Commenting after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael said:
“The loss of the bird observatory is heart-breaking for the community in Fair Isle.
“Obviously the community will need time to come to terms with what has happened but I hope that the Observatory will be rebuilt. I was pleased that the Prime Minister was prepared to indicate support for that effort. There is a precedent here - the UK and Scottish Governments are helping to rebuild Glasgow Art School, and rightly so.
“I welcome the Prime Minister’s willingness to engage in this important issue, and look forward to meeting with the Scottish Secretary to discuss what can be done to ensure that this vital resource is not lost to the community, and to all who care about our seabird population around the world.”