Midlothian MP vows to fight closure of Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World

A local MP has vowed to fight closure of Butterfly and Insect World, which has fallen victim to pandemic cuts.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 3:29 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 4:03 pm
Owen Thompson said he will support action to save the popular attraction
Owen Thompson said he will support action to save the popular attraction

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Owen Thompson SNP MP for Midlothian has written to the Managing Director of owners Dobbies Garden Centres, and arranged a meeting to find a solution so the popular attraction can remain open.

Bosses told the Evening News on Tuesday it was a difficult decision to close the Lothians institution for good after nearly 40 years of operation.

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Officials confirmed that consultations are underway with eight staff - though it's understood some have already been made redundant.

Butterflies and insects at the site, which opened in 1984, are to be rehomed within the next few months, the company said.

Reacting to Tuesday’s shock confirmation, Mr Thompson said: "This is terrible news. I know we face very difficult times but this is an important educational resource for the community and brings many visitors to Midlothian. We can't let the world's longest-running indoor butterfly house become a permanent victim of Covid cuts.

"Like many who grew up in Midlothian, Butterfly and Insect World was a big part of my childhood and it is still very much enjoyed by families now. At a time when we need to raise awareness of the natural world, it sends the wrong signal to lose a resource like this, which we are so lucky to have on our doorstep.

"I have asked for a meeting with the CEO of Dobbies as a first step to see what can be done.

"The local community won't let this go without a fight and I will be with them all the way.”

On Tuesday, Loanhead mum Mhairi Whyte, whose son, Alex, 17, volunteered for more than a year at Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World, said she and her family were heartbroken to learn of the site’s closure.

Ms Whyte hopes to start a community fundraiser and said she is determined to work with others in finding a solution that will see the attraction saved.

She pointed to the recent success of campaigners saving financially-stricken Gorgie Farm. The legendary urban farm was brought back from the brink before the pandemic hit and rebranded Love Gorgie Farm.

She commented: “We are gutted. It will be a disaster if its shut for good. Alex hoped to work there one day. It was the world to him.

"He got to prepare food, clean and handle animals. He got to give a talk once. He is so into the animals and looking after them that he now collects reptiles and we have four tanks at home.

"That has been what kept him going throughout lockdowns. It’s a devastating loss for so many.”

Ms Whyte continued: "They saved Gorgie Farm. Why can’t Butterfly World be saved too? It’s a special place.

"If they can tell us how much we’d need to raise to save it and keep it going then I’ll do whatever I can.”

"If people come forward I’d be happy to help set up a fundraiser. I hope people who could inject much needed cash will also come forward.”

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