Green light for £20m nuclear archive in Caithness

An archive centre documenting the UK's nuclear history will be installed in Caithness, which is near Dounreay, pictured. Picture: TSPL
An archive centre documenting the UK's nuclear history will be installed in Caithness, which is near Dounreay, pictured. Picture: TSPL
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PLANS for a £20million triangular-shaped archive centre in Caithness telling the story of the UK’s nuclear history have been approved by councillors.

The proposal is for a distinctive triangular-shaped building just outside Wick to house tens of millions of documents spanning 70 years from across Britain’s nuclear sites, including nearby Dounreay.

Planning official Emma Forbes said: “The design of the proposal is bold, distinctive and contemporary, utilising a triangular geometric footprint with high quality materials and a design solution which maximises energy efficiency.”

Around 30 jobs will be created at the centre, which will also hold records from the Wick-based Caithness archive.

The proposed building has a gross floor area of approximately 6,186sq.m. It is expected to hold between 20 and 30 million digital records and around 28,000 linear metres of paper and photographic records primarily concerning the history, development and decommissioning of the UK’s civil nuclear industry since the 1940s.

The need for this facility was identified in 2008 when the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) announced plans to create the new archive in Caithness.

This was in response to the NDA’s duty to manage public records, keeping them safe and making them accessible to the public and the nuclear community.”

The NDA archive is being developed in partnership with Highland Council, whose own North Highland Archive records will also be housed in the facility.

The archive will bring together vast numbers of records, plans, photographs, drawings and other important information dating as far back as Second World War, that are currently stored in various locations around the country.

An NDA spokesman said: “Much of the information will eventually be digitised and made available for electronic research, and to support the ongoing decommissioning mission.

“Some of the material is currently held in buildings scheduled for demolition as sites are decommissioned, while some is also stored in off-site locations.

“Sellafield, the NDA’s largest site, is estimated to hold more than 50% of all the records in numerous stores, while at least of 80,000 archive boxes are held in commercial storage facilities.

“The Wick facility will also be developed as a base for training archivists, potentially offering apprenticeships, linking up with the University of the Highlands and Islands and the local community.”