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New Norton Park show site ‘not a done deal’

Visitors to the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston last weekend saw detailed plans for the new showground at Norton Park.

But in the annual report of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland published last April there was a warning that plans for a new home across the A8 at Norton Park were far from certain and that the cost was certain to exceed the current estimates of £275 million.

For the year ending November 30, 2006, the Society saw turnover breaking the £5m barrier for the first time, at £5.1m.

While the results follow several years of growing attendance and income, 2006 was described at the Society's best since it was formed in 1784.

The show, which last year had a turnover of £3m, is the main source of income for the Society and bosses say the growing attendance, particularly from overseas’ visitors, highlighted its status as a world class event.

The annual report also discussed plans for creating Norton Park - Scotland's National Showground, the proposed new headquarters for the Society if it eventually has to re-locate to allow for the £1 billion expansion of Edinburgh Airport.

How this would affect the SKC shows in the future is uncertain but there has been talk of the club seeking alternative sites for its two championship shows at either Springwood Park, Kelso or at a racecourse venue in the central belt of Scotland.

The current farmland would accommodate a like-for-like replacement of the current facilities, as well as a new 10,000-seat indoor arena suitable for major pop concerts and a new general-purpose livestock building.

If the plans took shape and agreement with BAA over the present Ingliston site was concluded the first Royal Highland show could take place at the new site in 2013.