REVISED plans for a £5.5m National Marine Centre at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick have been unveiled – but opposition to the project has not waned.

Amendments to the proposals, submitted to East Lothian Council, follow consultation with local groups and residents, many of whom have voiced concerns over its impact on the future of the town’s harbour area.

New artist’s drawings show the height of the planned observatory reduced by 1.6 metres, as well as alterations to the design of the marine centre’s roof and changes to the brickwork used so it is more in keeping with its surroundings.

The initial plans were widely criticised in the town, with the community council, harbour trust association and environment trust all submitting objections to the local authority – and the issue has dominated the Courier’s letter pages and led to some angry exchanges.

Grace Martin, National Marine Centre project director, acknowledged: “A lot of feedback from people was that they didn’t like the flat roof.”

The height of the 360-degree observatory would also be lowered so it would be “the same height as other buildings”, she said.

Tom Brock, Seabird Centre chief executive, added: “It has taken extensive consultation and many iterations to get to this stage, and these proposals, featuring quality design and materials, are essential to house the space needed to help achieve our education and conservation objectives.”

Mr Brock responded to concerns raised by North Berwick Harbour Trust Association (NBHTA) that the harbour would be adversely affected, and that major events may be impacted during construction.

He added: “We understand the concerns expressed about disruption and construction will be carefully managed to ensure that all the vital local activities, businesses and events, including Fringe by the Sea, continue to operate and that the harbour remains open throughout.”

The results of an Economic Impact Assessment carried out by specialist consultants EKOS have also been revealed, and the document states that the new centre will generate output of £2.38 million, while supporting more than 50 full-time equivalent jobs.

The centre currently attracts in the region of 273,000 visits per year and this is projected to increase to 344,000 but with a wider spread across the year.

NBHTA has lodged a petition against the development which has been signed by more than 2,000 people.

Ms McMinn revealed that meetings between the two sides have already taken place, and others are planned, while there has been discussion about a public meeting.

The harbour trust association chairwoman added: “I don’t have any issue with the conservation and education aspects although I would have considered involving community project like the lobster hatchery and re-introduce some of the old like gannet chick rescue, children just adore creepy crawlies, swimming things and live animals and birds.

“There will be no research taking place on site.

Iain Gray, East Lothian MSP, told the Courier: “I have always been a supporter of the Seabird Centre, and of the case for developing a National Marine Centre, and believe it may well have the potential to further enhance East Lothian’s attractiveness as a visitor destination.

“However, any development at North Berwick Harbour must also command support amongst the local community, including other harbour users and local businesses. It is very clear that this is not the case with the current proposals, with many concerned about the potential impact on the future of the harbour and the town.

“I am in regular contact with both the Seabird Centre and other organisations such as the North Berwick Harbour Trust, so I am very aware that the centre’s revised plans have not addressed the objections of the trust and others.

“Even at this stage, I would still hope that it is possible to find a way forward together to secure the Centre’s future and benefit the whole of North Berwick, and am certainly keen to do anything I can to help with that.”

Councillor Jane Henderson said it was “simply impossible to ignore the level of objection to the plans.”

She added: “Delivering a desirable and successful outcome for North Berwick and East Lothian must be in all of our interests.”

The plans will be on show at the Seabird Centre on Saturday and Sunday as part of its community weekend, while they are likely to be discussed at a public meeting of North Berwick Community Council at the town’s fire station on Tuesday evening.