Crowd-funding appeal to help replace bird hide raises almost £30,000

10 May 2021

An appeal to help fund the replacement of a popular bird hide destroyed by fire has raised almost £30,000. NatureScot’s Mill Hide on the shores of Loch Leven National Nature Reserve (NNR) was completely destroyed in a blaze on February 18th.

Encouraged by the many offers of support from the community, the organisation began a campaign on 1 March to raise funds to re-build the hide through MyParkScotland, Scotland’s only crowdfunding site specifically for nature reserves, parks and greenspaces with a goal of £35,000 to re-build the hide. NatureScot has committed to make up any shortfall in the costs of rebuilding the hide this year.

The hide, built in 2011 and situated on the edge of Kinross behind the Todd and Duncan factory, 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 numberof birds congregating on the water.

NatureScot’s reserve manager Neil Mitchell said: “We’re hugely thankful to everyone who contributed to the appeal. Many people enjoyed the hide’s 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.

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

“We’d like to thank local businesses, particularly Loch Leven Brewery for its special edition Phoenix Beer, developed to raise funds for the hide, and Pizza Via for their great fundraising raffle, as well as recognise the collective efforts of the community through sponsored events and raffles, with very generous donations from benefactors.”

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.”

The charred, skeletal remains of the hide were removed in early March, and the site fenced off for public safety. The foundations survived the fire and will support the replacement structure.

Loch Leven is Scotland’s most visited National Nature Reserve. With more than 300,000 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 hide won the award for the best "Low Cost Project" at the 2012 Scottish Design Awards. These same architects will be looking at the design of the hide to see what measures may be put in place to prevent a similar incident in the future and the ways in which NatureScot can involve the community in the hide’s reinstatement.

The original hide cost about £35,000 and it’s anticipated the replacement will be a similar cost.

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