'Heritage strategy' plan for Dounreay

A DESIGN consultant has been asked to decide what Dounreay's legacy should be after half a century in the far north of Scotland.

Over the next 25 years, the nuclear complex will all but disappear from the Caithness skyline, after a 2.9 billion programme of decommissioning.

By the time the clean-up is complete, all that is scheduled to remain are secure stores for up to 15,000 cubic metres of intermediate-level waste and fuels.

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The question of what else should be kept is now in the hands of consultant Atkins, which has been awarded an 88,000 contract to prepare a heritage strategy for the site.

Its project, which will run until November, will look at the impact Dounreay has had in a local, national and international context, and will include ideas on how to preserve facilities and artefacts of potential historical significance.

Atkins has also been asked to consider options for the landmark Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR), the golf ball-shaped dome. Last year, a number of ideas were put forward for the future of the sphere, including a hotel, museum and recreational centre, as well as demolition.

It has been estimated that knocking down the DFR after a clear-out of radioactive and chemical contamination would cost 13.7 million. Retaining and maintaining it over the next decade would cost 10.1 million, but the sphere support structure and adjacent buildings would need replacing after ten years, at a total cost of up to 35 million.