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Caithness News Bulletins March 2005

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Caithness Visitor Centres, Museums, Galleries Dounreay News  

Dounreay’s award-winning visitor centre opens its doors for the 2005 season today in time for the early Easter weekend.

The centre explains to visitors the remarkable story of the pioneers who developed the fast breeder programme at Dounreay 50 years ago, and the major clean-up programme now underway to restore the environment.

It describes how UKAEA is working with the local community to establish the north Highlands as an international centre of excellence in nuclear decommissioning - qualities that can sustain the skills and enterprise base of the north Highlands beyond the closure of Dounreay and so ensure the ultimate legacy of Scotland’s first “atomic factory” is one everyone can be proud of.

Over 9,000 people visited the centre during 2004, making it one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Far North.

Trained guides will be on hand to take visitors through the story of Dounreay’s pioneering past and explain how UKAEA has become the most experienced organisation in Western Europe in nuclear reactor

UKAEA’s Tina Wrighton, who manages the centre, says: "The visitor centre plays a very important part in giving the public the opportunity to find out more about the decommissioning challenges that lie ahead of us and how UKAEA is working with the community to ensure that the benefits of Dounreay can be enjoyed by everyone for years to come".

The whole family can enjoy the exhibition and admission to the centre is free, reflecting the importance that UKAEA attaches to both communicating openly and honestly with the wider community about the decommissioning programme and supporting the local economy.

Casia Zajac, of the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board, says: "The Dounreay Visitor Centre provides a quality and interesting experience for visitors to Caithness. Moreover, the highly professional team do a great job and work hard at their marketing which is quite a challenge in this sector and in a remote part of the Highlands."

The visitor centre is located in the former Dounreay airfield control tower next to the licensed site. It has been a visitor centre for over 40 years, and is open seven days a week, 10am to 4pm, from March 24th until the end of October.

UKAEA has accepted an invitation from the Highland Council to become one of the partners in a new high quality community and visitor facility being proposed by the council as part of its intended refurbishment of Thurso Town Hall. Details of this proposal will be on display at the existing visitor centre this year for visitors to comment on.