Nicola Sturgeon has said she will be “happy” to encourage new discussions about the future of an Orkney tourist attraction to take place.
Neolithic chambered cairn Maeshowe was briefly closed and has since reopened with a new shuttle bus service after concerns were raised about the safety of its surroundings.
The issue was raised in the Scottish Parliament yesterday by Orkney MSP Liam McArthur, who called on Nicola Sturgeon to encourage Historic Environment Scotland to act on planning permission for a new visitor centre, car park and pedestrian underpass.
Responding, the First Minister confirmed she would be “happy to encourage those discussions to proceed.”
Following the exchange Mr McArthur said: “Maeshowe is a world-class tourist attraction and therefore deserves to be served by world-class facilities that allow the many visitors to our islands to experience Orkney’s rich history.
“While it is good news that Maeshowe will now be open to the public, the current arrangements can only be a short term fix.
“I welcome the First Minister’s assurances today that she will seek to encourage discussions between Historic Environment Scotland, Orkney Islands Council and key stakeholders to take forward plans for a more appropriate, long term solution. This needs to reflect the international significance of this site and its importance to Orkney’s tourism sector.”
Mr McArthur is due to meet with HES chief executive Alex Patterson about the issue.
The agency confirmed earlier this week that a new shuttle bus service will run to Maeshowe from Skara Brae.
Mr Patterson said it was an “interim measure” and confirmed HES is working to find a “more sustainable” long term solution.