Crowd-funding appeal to help replace bird hide destroyed by fire

01 March 2021

An appeal to help fund the replacement of a popular bird hide recently destroyed by fire was launched today (1 March). NatureScot’s popular Mill Hide on the shores of Loch Leven National Nature Reserve (NNR) was completely gutted in a blaze on February 18th.

Encouraged by the many offers of support from the community, the organisation is leading a campaign to raise funds to re-build the hide through MyParkScotland, Scotland’s only crowdfunding site specifically for nature reserves, parks and greenspaces.

The hide, built in 2011 and situated on the edge of Kinross behind the Todd and Duncan factory, had won awards for its architectural design. It was a much-loved place for locals and visitors alike to enjoy some of the best views of the loch and the large numbers of birds congregating on the water.

NatureScot's reserve manager Neil Mitchell said:

“The hide was hugely popular, with so many people enjoying this wonderful vantage point for the ducks, geese and swans that feed and roost in Factory Bay – as well as the occasional glimpse of a kingfisher."

“While it’s gutting to see it destroyed, the response from the community and the general public has been amazing. Given this bird watching site’s popularity and fantastic loch side location, we are determined to replace the hide as soon as possible.”

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people offering support, so we’ve decided to begin our first ever crowdfunding effort with the aim of re-building the hide as soon as possible.”

Speaking on behalf of Kinross Community Council, Chair Lynne McKay, added:

“While we were pleased that no one was injured in the fire, we were all shocked and saddened by the destruction of one of Loch Leven's treasured loch-side facilities. With its award-winning design and vantage point in a beautiful spot at the south-west of the loch, the hide was a much-loved building.

“Reserve Manager Neil Mitchell has told us that support from the local community and friends and family from far and wide has been both overwhelming and heart-warming. Like all the residents of Kinross, the Perth & Kinross Councillors and Kinross Community Councillors are fully behind the crowdfunding initiative that NatureScot intends to launch. It is hoped it will enable the re-building of the hide so that it can be restored to its former glory.”

The charred, skeletal remains of the hide, which was built in 2011 and won two design awards, will be removed in early March. It is hoped the foundations have survived to support the replacement structure, reducing the cost.

Currently, the hide is fenced off for public safety, but NatureScot hopes to begin re-building this year. Police are investigating the fire.

Loch Leven is Scotland’s most visited National Nature Reserve. With more than 250,000 people a year visiting the site and using the Loch Leven Heritage Trail, this bird hide was one of the most visited parts of the reserve. The bird hide won the award for the best "Low Cost Project" at the 2012 Scottish Design Awards.

The original hide cost about £35,000 and it’s anticipated the replacement will be a similar cost. NatureScot has some funds available this year, and a significant contribution from the community will allow the Mill Hide to be re-built as soon as possible. Otherwise, the re-build will have to be deferred until more funds become available in 2022/23 or later.

NatureScot manages the Loch Leven National Nature Reserve on behalf of Kinross Estate Company and along with RSPB Scotland at the Vane farm part of the reserve. All this is with the co-operation and support of many organisations and individuals – including volunteers, Kinross Community Council, TRACKS and Perth & Kinross Council.

To make a donation, see www.mypark.scot/projects/rebuild-the-mill-hide/ .

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