Dynamic Earth closes steps due to safety concerns

ONE of the city's top visitor attractions has sealed off its landmark steps amid health and safety fears.

Tuesday, 19th April 2016, 5:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th April 2016, 6:40 am
The amphitheatre steps at Dynamic Earth have been closed off due to safety fears. Picture: Julie Bull

The amphitheatre at the entrance to Dynamic Earth was closed in the wake of a review after a visitor took a tumble down the steps.

And it is set to remain out of bounds for months until permission is given to install lights and handrails.

Former Tory MSP Cameron Buchanan blasted the decision – on the back of one incident – as an example of “health and safety gone mad”. He said: “Those steps have been there for almost 20 years. Thousands of people have used them over the years without incident but just because one person has fallen they do this. It’s total overkill.

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The steps at Dynamic Earth are closed for safety reasons. Picture: Julie Bull

“I have gone up and down those steps many times without any problems and I have a bad leg. They are not dangerous. They are quite shallow and if it’s raining there’s always the ramp. And what about the Romans? They seem to have managed in the Colosseum without these handrails, without adequate lighting – and they were wearing sandals.

“The incident does not justify the level of expenditure on architects and consultants and other experts who just want to justify their fees. Handrails will spoil the aesthetic of the place.”

But John Simpson, CEO of Holyrood-based Dynamic Earth, insisted that the safety of visitors was his top priority.

He said: “It was agreed that, while the amphitheatre complied with current planning legislation, that the area would benefit from the introduction of handrails on the staircases.

The steps at Dynamic Earth are closed for safety reasons. Picture: Julie Bull

“It was subsequently agreed by both parties that it would be beneficial to commission experts to review our assessment and proposals for handrails and to ensure that the area was made as safe as practicably possible. The safety and security of our guests while on site is of paramount importance to the organisation.”

Council chiefs have also written to designers recommending that lighting be installed to “illuminate the steps and aid navigation”, alongside “white strips” to mark them out.

The plans have now been agreed by the Environmental Health department, but Mr Simpson stressed that planning processes “can take a number of weeks before approvals are given”.

He said: “We are confident that the proposed works will be completed as soon as possible.

“In the intervening period management at Dynamic Earth have taken the decision to close the amphitheatre steps through the use of temporary barriers and to direct guests coming to the centre to enter via the ramp to the west of the site, or alternatively to access via the steps on the east side.”

Scotland’s largest interactive visitor centre, costing £34 million, Dynamic Earth was officially opened by the Queen in 1999. It is just behind the site of the Scottish Parliament and formed part of the £150m regeneration of the area.