A PETITION signed by nearly 3,000 people against the development of a proposed National Marine Centre in North Berwick has been handed to East Lothian Council.

The petition was organised by the North Berwick Harbour Trust Association (NBHTA) in an attempt to stop the multi-million-pound development (see image below, by architects Simpson & Brown), which would be an extension to the existing Scottish Seabird Centre.

East Lothian Courier:

Jane McMinn, NBHTA chairwoman, handed the petition over to Provost John McMillan at John Muir House last Wednesday.

She told the Courier: “There were 2,900 participants between the paper and online version and about 2,000 were residents in North Berwick – an unprecedented number of participants.”

Previously, the harbour trust association chairwoman has voiced concerns over the £5.5 million proposals that would see an extension, including a 360-degree observatory, added to the Seabird Centre building and offices adjacent.

Ms McMinn also said if planning permission were granted by the council, the development would “likely jeopardise the activity that takes place [at the harbour]”.

But Tom Brock, Seabird Centre chief executive, said: “The National Marine Centre is a major opportunity to create an outstanding new facility for both locals and visitors that will raise awareness, appreciation and care of our amazing marine wildlife. We have received encouraging support for the project from individuals and organisations both locally and nationally.

“Following local consultation and feedback, we’ve further revised the building designs. We’ve worked closely with the original centre architects to create a proposal that they strongly believe will improve our existing buildings and enhance the area in a similar way that the original Seabird Centre did 17 years ago.

“We are keen to increase educational opportunities. An improved education centre will allow us to meet the increasing demand from school groups, enabling us to encourage children of all ages to learn and care about our marine environment and wildlife.

"The project will allow us to deliver new education and outreach programmes. The programmes, fully aligned to Curriculum for Excellence, will especially target disadvantaged groups and offer a blended approach to learning including classroom-based, online and outdoor activities.”