No bats in the belfry so let there be light at St Andrews Cathedral

How the cathedral may look when floodlit
How the cathedral may look when floodlit

Rumours that the presence of bats has put paid to plans to floodlight St Andrews Cathedral have been denied.

Patrick Laughlin, manager of the St Andrews Partnership, confirmed this week that the final go-ahead for the £195,000 project was imminent – and bats weren’t going to stop it.

He confirmed to the Citizen that a bat survey had been carried out and that he had been informally advised that the protected species would not be a problem.

Mr Laughlin added that he had also had informal contact from Historic Environment Scotland giving the go-ahead.

“The bat survey was carried out in the summer to ensure the bats in the cathedral environs would not be disturbed by the lighting,” he said, “and the latest I have is that there should be no problem with the lighting plan going ahead.”

The next stage is to get formal consents from Fife Council, which Mr Laughlin was confident would get the green light.

“Lights have been there before and we are using the original footings for the lights,” he explained.

But the project has a long way to go to raise the necessary funds.

“We have raised about £12,000 so far,” Mr Laughlin reported, but he was confident of raising the full amount.

“The larger funders of these sorts of projects don’t make offers of funding until all the consents are in place and I am optimistic once we have achieved that, grants will be forthcoming.”

As well as providing floodlighting for the cathedral, the £195,000 will also provide the cash so the lights can be maintained for a minimum of 15 years.

When the campaign was launched last June, Partnership chairman Jim McArthur was optimistic too: “In 2011-12 we successfully raised almost £150,000 for the restoration of Martyrs’ Monument, ” he said, “and the Cathedral is a more iconic structure with greater visitor numbers and well recognised throughout the world. Many local people will remember how good the Cathedral looked when it was lit up previously, and I can promise them that our new lights will be even more breathtaking.”

The new scheme will bring state-of-the-art equipment, giving the ability to change the lighting colours for special occasions, for example, using blue lighting for St Andrew’s Day.

LED technology will bring running costs down to 15 per cent of the previous lighting system’s.