Plans for £14m nuclear industry archive in Caithness given green light

A £14 million national archive centre for the nuclear industry is to go ahead in Caithness, near to the Dounreay experimental power complex.

• Project was first mooted in 2008 and will be constructed on land owned by the Highland Council

• The archive will create up to 20 jobs and hold between 20-30 million digital, paper and photographic records from civil nuclear sites dating back to the 1940s

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The archive – which could create up to 20 jobs – would hold between 20 to 30 million digital, paper and photographic records from civil nuclear sites in the UK dating back to the 1940s.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has announced it is to proceed with the next phase of the project, which was first mooted back in 2008. The new building, to be constructed on land owned by Highland Council near Wick Airport – just a few miles from Dounreay, which was built in the 1950s and is currently being decommissioned – could be open by 2016.

The NDA is working in partnership with local authority to provide a new home for the council’s North Highland Archive within the new centre.

The NDA has a remit from the Government to help mitigate the negative impact on local communities of decommissioning the UK’s redundant nuclear sites.

The authority has chosen to site the archive in Caithness so that anticipated economic benefits from the project will be realised in a community which has been identified as a priority area for NDA socio economic support.

NDA chairman Stephen Henwood said, “This is a significant decision for the NDA.

“The announcement signals the culmination of an extensive piece of work to devise a strategy for the long-term safe management of a huge volume of records dating back to the 1940’s.

“The archive to be built in Wick will be an extremely important national facility and I’m particularly pleased about the additional economic benefits that will come to the north of Scotland by placing the archive in Caithness.”

SNP MSP Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said: “The announcement by the NDA to build the National Nuclear Archive in Wick is welcome.

“Not only will the archive deliver the infrastructure required for the NDA to manage its records safely, securely and efficiently but it will also create a number of sustainable quality jobs for the Caithness region.

Local MP John Thurso also welcomed the NDA’s decision to proceed with building the UK’s national archive in the north of Scotland.

He said: “The decision to start work on the National Nuclear Archive in Wick will be a big boost for the local economy during the construction phase and provide good jobs over the longer term.

“It is also an important facility around which complementary activity by The Highland Council and the Scottish Government could be planned. I warmly welcome the decision to proceed and commend the NDA for fulfilling their promise in these difficult economic times.”

Bob Earnshaw, chair of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group said, “The DSG has been involved with this project for a number of years and are really pleased with the announcement which outlines potential dates for the start of an extensive construction project as well as providing long-term jobs for the future.

“While the facility will ensure sustainable jobs it will also represent other unique opportunities for the area and we look forward to continuing to work with the NDA to ensure the benefit of siting the National Nuclear Archive in Wick are maximised.”

Highland Council leader Drew Hendry said: “When the initial decision was taken to establish the National Nuclear Archive in Wick, the Council saw this not only as a positive step forward in terms of creating high-value jobs and boosting the area’s economy, but also as an opportunity to establish a shared facility with the North Highland Archive, creating a unique asset for the north of Scotland and the UK.

“The Council’s role in identifying and providing land has been a key factor in bringing the project to Wick, and we look forward to working with the NDA to bring the project to fruition.”