Highlands & Islands

'See stars, hear whales' idea suggested for Aird Uig

Aird Uig Image copyright Mike Merritt/Western Isles News Agency
Image caption Residents of Aird Uig hope to take over a nearby military base

A space observatory and a place where tourists can listen to whales singing has been proposed for a former Cold War site on the Western Isles.

Residents of Aird Uig on Lewis have registered an interest in taking over buildings at Gallan Head.

They were used by the RAF, and later the Ministry of Defence, during the Cold War then by Nato until recently.

The community wants to take advantage of the area's dark skies and marine wildlife.

It has been suggested that a hydrophone could be installed in the sea below Aird Uig to allow people to listen to whales.

Martin Hayes, chairman of the Gallan Head Community Trust, said he believed the observatory would be the first in the isles and the land involved could be purchased at low, or, no cost.

Image caption The site could offer visitors a chance to listen for whales

He said: "There will have to be an independent valuation but we believe the land is more a liability than an asset.

"The remediation costs are something like between £300,000 and £500,000. There are 14 redundant buildings on the site - we would use some of them."

He added: "The village was never told what the base was used for - it was all top secret.

"But we have to generate income to keep the village going and this is our chance."

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