Fair Isle Bird Observatory reconstruction gets £500k bridging loan


Work is under way to rebuild Fair Isle Bird Observatory after the building was destroyed by fire in 2019, with the project having received a £500k bridging loan from the Shetland Charitable Trust.

The trust's capital bridging works loan scheme is designed to offer interest-free loans to solve cash-flow issues while projects are waiting for other funding to arrive.

An artist's impression of the completed Fair Isle Bird Observatory (Colin Armstrong Architects).

In 2021, the reconstruction project was costed at £7.4 million, with the Scottish Government and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise together contributing approximately £2.35 million. Other funding has come from the Crown Estate Coastal Communities Fund (run by Shetland Islands Council) and the Garfield Weston Foundation, as well as observatory's own funds and a worldwide crowdfunding appeal.

The delivery of modular units to the remote island has caused delays to the project, with the bird observatory currently planning to re-open to visitors in 2024 now that all of the materials have arrived.