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Works gets underway to develop strategy for site heritage

Preserving the story of 50 years of research and development and the decommissioning challenges faced will be an important part of Caithness heritage for future generations.

It\’s not all about retaining buildings, it is also about the culture, the achievements (good and bad) and the personalities who worked at the site and how Dounreay in its entirety impacted on the local community.

The debate on whether DFR should be retained as a national industrial iconic structure will continue but there is a wider picture to consider here and with this in mind the site has awarded a contract to Atkins Ltd to assist in the development of a heritage strategy. The Atkins project team visited the site last week to start initial discussions on the scope of the work. They met with various people during their four day visit to start the thinking process which will result in a strategy being developed.

Bob Clark, Senior Heritage Consultant said, "We were made very welcome and were impressed by the dedication and enthusiam of everyone we met. We can see why the development of a strategy matters so much to so many people. From our initial discussions we now have a much better understanding of the ‘Dounreay phenomenon’ and the ways in which this embraced both technical and scientific achievement and the formation of what was almost a whole new community around the pre-atomic town of Thurso.

"There is a great deal of work to be done, but we expect that key to the strategy will be to tell the complete story. The research and development era is, and always will be, important – it proved to the world that fast reactor technology worked – but of equal importance will be the inclusion of the innovation and discovery inhererent in the site’s decommissioning which should also be recorded and preserved."

James Gunn, Dounreay’s Heritage Strategy Manager said, "This was a very useful first meeting to kick start the thinking process which will eventually develop into a strategy. We have plenty of ideas coming forward not only from Atkins but from individuals who are passionate about ensuring the Dounreay story is well recorded in some shape or form and from Historic Scotland who also have an interest. One of the main issues explored was how best to preserve the social/cultural heritage as little has been done in this area so far.

"Once we have a draft strategy, which should be produced later this year, we will discuss ways of engaging with the local community, through the Dounreay Stakeholder Group, to ensure that anyone who has a view gets a chance to provide comments for us to consider."