AMBITIOUS plans have been unveiled for a new £3 million visitor centre at the iconic Pitlochry Dam in a major boost for tourism in Highland Perthshire.
• It is hoped the new centre will double the number of visitors to the dam
• The current visitor centre at Pitlochry has been closed due to access problems.
Scottish and Southern Energy has lodged plans for the construction of the new centre with Perth and Kinross Council in a move that could lead to the number of visitors touring the dam increasing from 50,000 to 100,000 a year.
The current visitor centre at Pitlochry, which has now been closed because of access problems, charted the history of hydro generation in Scotland from its origins in the 1940s to the present day. Pitlochry Dam is also home to a salmon ladder where the King of Fish can be seen in a viewing chamber during their ascent past Pitlochry Dam.
Gillian O’Reilly, SSE’s head of community development, said: “Last year we commissioned a consultancy firm to carry out an independent review of our visitor facilities. The findings concluded that a substantial investment was required to update the Pitlochry Visitor Centre. It was also highlighted that the centre is part of an operational power station and has a number of access restrictions which would have been challenging to overcome.”
She continued: “As the town of Pitlochry has been a long and loyal supporter of hydro generation, and in recognition of the number of people who visit our dam and fish ladder each year, we were keen to look into alternative options for our visitors. These plans are at a very early stage and will require SSE to undertake further investigation and consultation with the local community. However we are excited about the prospects of this potential new site and we hope to bring further news in the coming months.
“In the meantime we have made the decision to close the existing visitor centre and to install five interpretation panels at various point across the dam, each of them explaining different aspects of our hydro heritage.”
The planning document for the proposed scheme states: “This option presents an opportunity to create a nationally significant visitor attraction that will deliver enhanced, tangible benefits for Pitlochry and the surrounding area, as well as raise the profile for the local operation and SEE as a national company.
“National significance will also be achieved through the quality of the environmentally sustainable building, the quality of the exhibition and the setting.”