Setting up butterfly dome ‘too expensive’

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The council’s Leisure Committee has ruled out the possibility of building a ‘butterfly dome’ in the borough after it was revealed that the set-up costs for such a venture would be well in excess of £100,000.

At their December committee meeting, members asked officers to investigate the possibility of creating a butterfly house, possibly at Loughshore Park or Sentry Hill, as a visitor attraction.

However, a report presented to Monday night’s (March 3) committee meeting revealed that construction of a 10m x 7m glasshouse would cost more than £77,000, with additional civil works such as electrics and connecting the gas supply to the heating system costing in excess of £30,000.

The report stated that staffing the butterfly house, which would only be open to the public between April and October each year, would cost around £20,000 per annum.

The meeting was informed that butterflies only live for two weeks and are bought in as pupae weekly and hatched in a puparium. The cost of pupae would be around £2,500 per season, with an additional £2,000 having to be spent on nectar rich plants and fruit annually.

According to the officers’ report, the estimated income from such an attraction would be less than £17,000 per year - meaning an annual loss of more than £7,000.

Cllr Billy Webb thanked officers for looking into the possibility of constructing a butterfly dome, but agreed that the report be ‘noted’.

“It was worth looking at, but we can see that it’s just too costly,” he commented.

Cllr Victor Robinson suggested that officers look at the possibility of creating a butterfly garden, citing it as a cheaper alternative.