Plans to transform a historic Aberdeen artillery battery into a “world-class” dolphin visitor attraction have made a splash with business leaders and the RSPB.
The Greyhope Bay organisation last week submitted proposals to move their vision for a £10 million marine life viewing and education centre from the original site at Greyhope, to Torry Battery.
Instead of building the entire facility at once, the developers are now seeking to build it in stages, and if approved by planners, the team hope the first phase – which will cost around £200,000 – could be up and running by June next year.
Composed of two shipping containers clad with Scottish larch wood, the first stages of the Greyhope Bay team’s “Dolphins at the Battery” project will include a café, toilet facilities and exhibition space celebrating the history of the battery, which is more than 100 years old and saw use during both World Wars.
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Adam Ross from the RSPB, which has operated the Dolphinwatch scheme from the car park of the Torry Battery since 2013, said the Greyhope Bay team’s plans would complement the service the charity provides every summer, as those taking part frequently request toilet access and somewhere to enjoy a coffee.
He said: “We look forward to collaborating with Greyhope Bay to ensure visitors make the most of their visit to Torry Battery, whether that’s dolphin-watching, participating in some of our family events, enjoying a coastal walk or making use of the new visitor centre and cafe.”
Russell Borthwick, the chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “The north-east has huge ambitions when it comes to tourism and, more importantly, a very strong offering in terms of our landscape and natural environment.
“Attractions which build on our strengths as a destination and increase our capacity to attract a wide range of visitor numbers are an important part of achieving our ambitions.”
Andrew Martin, director of the Scottish Centre for Tourism at Robert Gordon University, is confident the Greyhope project will be a hit.
He said: “Historical and natural tourism are both two strong pulls that could bring a great number of visitors to the region and to Torry Battery.
“The Scottish Dolphin Centre up in Spey Bay in Moray has proved very successful as a dolphin-spotting attraction, so I see no reason why a similar offering in Aberdeen wouldn’t enjoy the same success.
“Modern tourists are very environmentally engaged, so this would play to their interests strongly.
“It would also be a very attractive prospect for millennials, who are a group that are very much switched on when it comes to nature tourism.”