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Councillors raise no objection to nuclear archive at Wick

Highland councillors have raised no objections to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's (NDA) plans to build a new National Nuclear Archive Centre in Wick.

The building would store information and records related to the Dounreay experimental nuclear power plant on the north Caithness coast near Thurso. Dounreay is being decommissioned at a cost of £1.6bn. The NDA has notified Highland Council of its proposal to site the archive near Wick Airport Industrial Estate. The brownfield site had previously been occupied by the RAF. A planning application for the project has still to be submitted.

Highland Council's north planning applications committee has noted the NDA's plans.

A staggering 250 tonnes of historic documents, charting the development of Britain’s first fast-breeder nuclear reactor at Dounreay, will be among the first items to be stored in the new National Nuclear Archive to be built in Caithness, it was revealed.

The £20 million national archive centre for the nuclear industry is to be built close to Wick Airport, near the Dounreay experimental power complex, and will eventually house an estimated 30 million digital, paper and photographic records from civil nuclear sites throughout the UK, dating back to the 1940s.

The archive will include records from the UK Atomic Energy Authority in Harwell where the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, the UK centre for research and development into civil nuclear power, was first based.

A spokesman for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said that the new archive building would be open for business by 2016, just in time for the majority of the documents in the Dounreay archive to be moved offsite, before the existing archive building is vacated.


Sketch of Reiach and Hall’s porposed Scottish National Nuclear Archive design

Award-winning Edinburgh architecture practice Reiach and Hall were commissioned for the development of the national nuclear archive in 2010.
Reiach and Hall won the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award in 2007 for the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness. Neil Gillespie, Director of the practice, commented; ”We are absolutely thrilled to have been selected as architects for the National Nuclear Archive and the Caithness Archive in Wick. There are relatively few projects of this quality at present. We are aware how fortunate we are. The project has everything – a really interesting and demanding brief and it is located in the North, one of the most inspirational areas of Scotland.”

Councillor David Flear of the Landward Caithness ward, was on a judging panel which included local peer Lord Maclennan of Rogart (an Honorary Fellow of RIAS) and international architect Kathryn Findlay of Ushida Findlay. He said of the award to Reiach and Hall:
“I am convinced that we have chosen a firm of architects who will create a new landmark for Caithness and a building of which we can all be proud. This is an important initiative which will deliver jobs and boost the local economy.”

Sources: BBC News, The Scotsman & e-Architect