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Exclusive: An SNP government will support ‘beacon of hope’ Dundee Eden Project

The Eden Project has boosted Cornwall's coffers by £2bn.
The Eden Project has boosted Cornwall's coffers by £2bn.

An SNP Scottish Government will support the creation of the Dundee Eden Project – an attraction expected to bring millions of visitors to the city – if re-elected in May, we can exclusively reveal.

The party would back the “ambitious landmark project” to establish Dundee as a world-class destination and support Scottish tourism as part of its pandemic recovery strategy, and to reinforce the government’s commitment to climate change ahead of COP26.

Supporting the Dundee Eden Project is one of the SNP’s headline policy promises to be announced on Thursday, among a raft of plans to support Scotland’s tourism sector over the next 12 months.

The Eden Project is best known for its Cornwall site, which houses a “global garden” with giant biomes making up the world’s largest rainforest in captivity.

Eden project aerial view.

The attraction, which has been visited by millions since it first opened in 2001, also hosts exhibitions, school visits and concerts, and the charity has since expanded into China, New Zealand and Northern Ireland.

A feasibility study has been ongoing into potential sites in Dundee, with three preferred locations identified and concept designs already drawn up illustrating the scale of the attraction, which is scheduled to open in 2024.

‘Beacon of hope’

It is hoped the project, which was described as a “beacon of hope” for the future by Eden’s chief executive, David Harland, will help kickstart Scotland’s tourism sector following more than a year of coronavirus restrictions.

It is understood the SNP will put a commitment to rebuild the country’s tourism and hospitality sector at the centre of its manifesto pledges “so that we can share all that Scotland has to offer when the time is right”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This incredible project will be a game-changer for the city and the surrounding area and, with the backing of an SNP Scottish Government, a massive part of the jigsaw falls into place.

Nicola Sturgeon at Ruchill Park in Glasgow during campaigning for the Scottish election.

“The project will play a key role in Dundee’s strategic economic recovery from Covid-19, providing many benefits and opportunities to secure jobs, increase investment and attract more visitors to the area.

“Tourism remains a key driver for the inclusive growth of Scotland’s economy and in these incredibly challenging times for tourism, business and the wider economy, it is hugely exciting to see potential new growth through the next steps towards Eden Project Scotland being taken.

“Scotland’s tourism strategy aims to be the world leader in 21st Century tourism. The strategy’s fourth pillar, alongside Passionate People, Thriving Places and Diverse Businesses, aims to provide the very best authentic and memorable experiences.

Dundee Eden Project
The Eden Project would incorporate venues that encapsulate the nine guilds of Dundee.

“The provision of high-quality and authentic attractions like Dundee Eden will allow us to deliver those experiences.

“Meanwhile, the climate emergency has not gone away and the SNP looks forward to a successful COP26 In Glasgow.

“Our support for the creation of an Eden in Scotland would be a statement of intent and a showcase for our commitment to a just transition to net-zero emissions by 2045.”

A game-changer

The flagship Eden site has boosted Cornwall’s economy by £2 billion and it is hoped an attraction in Dundee would bring similar benefits for Tayside.

We previously revealed in an exclusive first-look sneak preview how the City of Discovery site will span several locations to contain the city’s “nine new guilds” – with each having its own identity and embassy.

Dundee Eden Project
The Eden Project has announced a multi-site proposal for Dundee.

The proposed themes include healers, growers, navigators, myth makers, noticers, alchemists, celebrators, menders and re-sourcerors. Each would have colours, crests, badges and certificates to offer members.

Every guild would have a ‘must see’ quality based on events, designs or installations within.

Together they will create a trail of sites, some permanent and some ‘pop up’, encouraging people to explore different parts of Dundee.

Along with Eden International, the proposals have been worked on by Dundee City Council – spearheaded by council leader John Alexander – with backing from Dundee University and publishers DC Thomson.

Dundee Eden Project
Dundee City Council leader John Alexander.

Mr Alexander said: “Eden Scotland is a project of local, national and international significance that will act as a catalyst for growth and improvement; environmentally, socially and economically.

“For all of that, and more, I’m delighted that my party are standing squarely behind the city as we move to bringing this incredible project through to delivery.

“Our commitment to tackling climate change and social challenges in the city is clear for all to see. This announcement gives us further certainty that this project can, and will, be delivered and I’m proud of the part that we have played in that.”

Another giant step

Dundee City East SNP candidate Shona Robison said projects such as the V&A and the Eden Project have “helped transform Dundee’s self-belief and the growing sense of optimism for the future is tangible”.

Joe FitzPatrick, who is running in Dundee City West for the party, added: “Dundee and the surrounding area is already a paradise for hillwalkers, golfers and sightseers, and the jobs, investment and new visitors that Eden Dundee will bring is another giant step along the road to recovery for this city and its fantastic people.”

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