Islanders and conservationists fight to save outdoor education centre on Arran
6 February 2023, Arran: The Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) is gravely concerned about the threatened imminent closure of the Arran Outdoor Education Centre (AOEC).
The award-winning organisation, COAST, which successfully secured Scotland’s first No Take Zone in Lamlash Bay, and the South Arran Marine Protected Area in 2016, has worked with the outdoor education centre for two decades providing access to marine education for children and young people.
COAST is concerned about the impact the closure could have on outdoor education amidst our climate and biodiversity crises, as well as on its own ongoing operations. COAST is due to use AOEC’s infrastructure to operate its new research vessel RV COAST Explorer, which is set to be officially launched in Spring 2023.
In October 2022, North Ayrshire Council, who run the outdoor education centre, agreed a binding 5-year partnership that would see COAST use AOEC’s infrastructure to operate the boat, in exchange for use of the boat by the many visiting school groups from across North Ayrshire and beyond.
North Ayrshire Council is now due to vote on 1 March to decide whether to close the centre permanently.
“With their proposed closure of the Arran Outdoor Education Centre, the North Ayrshire Council are effectively reneging on an agreement for the new COAST research boat to be housed there and utilise the centre’s infrastructure. Without this, we have grave concerns whether our long-awaited project will even be able to operate and the impact this will have on our island,” says Áine Purcell-Milton, Executive Director at COAST
The AOEC is the only outdoor centre on the edge of Arran’s No Take Zone and is uniquely placed to offer visiting pupils an enriching, eye-opening and life-changing opportunity to learn about the marine environment and the outdoors. Both mainland and local island school groups have benefitted from the educational partnership with COAST for the past 20 years, through regular presentations and more recently, guided visits to the COAST Discovery Centre.
“Outdoor education has been repeatedly proven to have a huge range of benefits for children’s physical and mental health, self-confidence, and well-being1. It also provides children from low-income and urban areas a unique chance to experience the outdoors and personally connect with nature in ways they may not have access to otherwise. This connection to nature is essential to inspire further generations to protect our seas and help mitigate biodiversity loss and the climate crisis,” says Sophie Plant, Education and Communications Manager, COAST
Ahead of the 1 March 2023, local residents, conservationists and others are joining forces to highlight the benefits of the centre. On Saturday 11th February at 11am, a peaceful march will begin at Lamlash pier to the Arran Outdoor Education Centre. All are welcome and more details are available here.
Check out more information on the campaign at: https://www.arranoutdoorforall.blog/