Businesses in a rural Perthshire village could feel the effects of an economic downturn if a well-known field study centre is forced to close its doors.
The Kindrogan Field Study Centre, located at Enochdhu near Blairgowrie, is facing closure after laying off staff earlier this year due to “challenging business conditions”.
Students and schools take up residency at the Highland Perthshire facility for environmental education lessons, spending money in the local shops during their stay.
Bosses at the Field Studies Council (FSC), who run the centre, say Kindrogan is on “strategic hold” after being reduced to a non-residential capacity earlier this year.
The facility, one of only two such centres in Scotland, officially laid off five people in January.
However The Courier understands 17 people had been employed by the centre before it closed.
Debbie Holland, manager of the Kirkmichael Village Shop, said the centre was the biggest employer in the village.
Debbie, whose husband Tony was one of the people made redundant by the centre, said: “As a village shop I worked very closely with Kindrogan and they used the shop quite a lot.
“They used to use the shop for produce so obviously I’ve lost the custom from them.
“It really has had a large affect on the whole of the village it closing down.
“It’s a beautiful place. I had a lot to do with the Beavers and the Cubs and we used to take them up there and now that’s gone.
“It’s a real shame that they’ve closed it.”
Local Conservative councillor Bob Brawn has warned the closure of the facility will have a negative effect on local businesses.
Councillor Brawn said: “The closure is not only a loss for field studies but has an effect on the local economy – not least atthe Kirkmichael Village Shop, which saw many students as customers.
“I have not heard of any plans for the building but I hope the trustees, whom I have previously written to, can find some way to re-open the centre – albeit perhaps on a smaller scale, so that this valuable local asset can remain.
“The Kindrogan Field Study Centre was recognised as an excellent base for field studies groups due to its rural location.
“However, the costs of getting students there, and staying there, has seen a reduction in demand which inevitably leads to a question over its viability.”
Depute First Minister John Swinney MSP has also called for Kindrogan stay open.
Mr Swinney said: “Kindrogan is a valuable centre that provides excellent opportunities for individuals to appreciate and understand so many aspects of our natural environment and the challenges it faces.
“I am very keen to find ways in which Kindrogan can continue to fulfil this role and continue the work that has been undertaken for so long.
“I will meet with FSC to discuss how this might be taken forward.”