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Nirah timeline

  • Nirah first talk to Bedfordshire

    Nirah make presentation to Bedfordshire representatives at portcullis house. Nirah initially say that £20 million would be required from public bodies in start-up costs. Bedfordshire was put in the picture after mayor Frank Branston flew the Nirah reps over the area in a helicopter.
  • Bedfordshire in pole position

    Nirah reveal that Bedfordshire is the preferred location for scheme, ahead of sites in Liverpool and South Wales. The project is revealed to be four times the size of the similar Eden project. The scheme’s overall cost is estimated at £250 million
  • Nirah focuses on Bedfordshire

    Nirah officially breaks off talks with the Liverpool and South Wales bids.
  • Council discusses Nirah

    Bedfordshire County Council calls a special meeting to discuss Nirah and whether they will back the project or not.
  • Hanson delay Nirah

    Building company Hanson say the Nirah project cannot start in the near future as they plan to continuing extracting clay for for 4-5 years.
  • Nirah loans agreed

    Nirah and a Bedfordshire consortium consisting of Bedfordshire County Council, Bedford Borough Council, Mid-Bedfordshire District Council and the East of England Development Agency agree a deal. EEDA and BCC will each make £2m loans.
  • Animal rights protests start

    Animal rights groups start to protest about "invasive research" that Nirah would participate in. The row includes Nirah refuse to go to meeting organised by animal welfare groups objecting to the project. While protests continued throughout the planning period, Nirah set up an ethics committee to ensure that any experiments wouldn't cause harm.
  • EEDA loan confirmed

    Secretary of State for Trade and Industry approves the EEDA £2m loan. A future agreement over more planning money is agreed at the House of Commons meeting.
  • First images of Nirah are released

    The first artist's impressions are revealed. However the cost of the project is now quoted at £375 million as the foucs of the project has shifted from science to leisure to make it more attractive to investors. Nirah now has incorporated water park, hotels and other leisure activities.
  • Nirah sets planning date

    Nirah announces its intention to apply for planning permission by the end of the summer. They will hold a series of public exhibitions to get people's views.
  • Some Stewartby residents concerned

    Some residents from Stewartby are worried by the scale of the project. One villager says that the developemtn will end up destroying the village at a public consultation in the village hall.
  • Financial rows start

    Bedfordshire County Council refuses a request of a further £300,000 loan by Nirah. Nirah say they will go into administration if the money isn’t received by 5th July. The agreement made at the House of Commons in 2005 was for £600,000 more investment.
  • Residents vow to fund Nirah

    A public meeting is held at Bedford Corn Exchange in order to establish local support for Nirah. Residents, led by Heather Harris, pledge to donate money if the County Council refuses to loan the extra £300,000.
  • The Murning e-mail

    Project director Ronnie Murning sends defamatory email to opponents Tony Hare and Nadine Dorries. He accidently clicked the send to all button. In the e-mail he also says that he is considering resigning because of the disruption to project.
  • Fallout from the e-mail

    Nirah issue a statement distancing themselves from Murning’s comments. Tony Hare seeks legal advice about the comments. It is also revealed that the County Council got a report from PriceWaterhouse Coopers over Nirah and this is why they went cold on investing any more money.
  • County Council and Nirah set back decision date

    The deadlien for a decision on Nirah is shifted to after a council meeting on 11th July.
  • Loan with conditions

    The Council agrees to loan Nirah £300,000 but set conditions that Nirah have to meet in order to get the money. It was later revealed that the conditions were designed so that Nirah would fail to meet them to force it to find private money.
  • Nirah reject loan

    Nirah rejects the loan, saying the conditions are unworkable. The conditions entailed having to pay extra £500k for an emergency fund as well as full loan repayment by 2007, five years earlier than planned. Nirah decides to set up a “founder member” scheme where people who donate a minimum of £50 will have five year discount on entry plus a certificate and engraved brick.
  • Nirah on display at River Festival

    Nirah sets up a stand at Bedford River Festival and gets around 4000 people to sign a petition in support of the project. Inj addition the stand give out around 1000 "founder member" forms
  • Dorries calls the police

    Nadine Dorries asks the District Auditor and the police to investigate Nirah finances and whether they had legal charitable status after Nirah set up stall asking for money at the River Festival. The complaint was eventually dismissed. Nirah say that the "founder member" scheme is a subscription offering benefits.
  • Liverpool back in

    Nirah engage in secret talks with Liverpool bid over a possible relocation of the project.
  • Council to get second opinion

    Bedfordshire County Council ay they will seek a second legal opinion over whether they can loan any more money. Originally they claimed that EU laws prevented any more investment.
  • Public meeting and Mayor resigns from consortium

    A public meeting at the Corn Exchange. Attacks on Nirah are led by Nadine Dorries. The project is defended by Professor Chris Shaw and Patrick Hall. County Council leader Madeline Russell suggests that council has backed scheme all along. Mayor Branston not allowed to attend meeting because he had donated money to project. Due to this he resigns from consortium which he brands “fairly useless”.
  • Liverpool talks

    Nirah meets with Liverpool consortium again.
  • Talks between Nirah and the council

    Nirah and Bedfordshire County Council have another meeting in an attempt to reconcile their differences.
  • Council officer quits

    Tim Malynn, the council officer for the environment whos was heavily involved in the project, quits his rolel to take up a directorship. He says Nirah had nothing to do with his decision.
  • Another secret report

    The East of England Regional Assembly asks for report into Nirah from the East of England Development Agency. This report is also kept secret although it seemed to have little effect on any of the future dealings with Nirah.
  • An agreement

    The County Council agrees, subject to a vote, to release £200k to Nirah for them to complete an outline planning application. It is also revealed that Nirah have received private money from building firm O & H and around £100k from local donations.
  • The loan is approved

    Nirah reveal where is has spent the £3 millon of public received so far. Of the further £1 million to come from the council they agree to loan £200,000. They will not release the other £800k “at this stage”. The threat of public planning inquiry between 50-70%. This would cost Nirah £700k.
  • Nirah deliver planning application

    Nirah's outline planning application is finally delivered to the County Council.
  • Planning inquiry unlikely

    Nirah predict that the threat of planning inquiry has been severely reduced.
  • Park and ride causes problems

    Plans for a park and ride near Elstow is criticised by residents. There are also problems with the site access road passing straight through the new Wixams development. Councillor Tony Hare says it will be “nightmare” for the residents.
  • Council disappointed

    The Council planning team say there are disappointed with the shift from research to leisure. They say the project's "iconic status" would come from research, not “standard offers” such as hotels, conference centres and a water park.
  • Keith Edelman joins Nirah

    Nirah announce that Keith Edelman, the man who oversaw the construction of the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal managing director, will become chairman of the project once it receives outline planning permission.
  • Nirah to lobby the City

    Nirah announce they will be targeting large city institutions for the further £50m seed money needed to start work on project. They say they will need outline planning permission to do this.
  • Gallagher unhappy

    Wixams developer, Gallagher, questions the Nirah access routes and shuttle buses. They lodge an official complaint to the County Council.
  • Planning approved

    Nirah is granted outline planning permission from the County Council. However they do not propose any resolutions to the transport link problems after Nirah say that they cannot afford to have any more delay on project.
  • No interference

    The Government confirm that they will not call in the decision on Nirah.
  • MacArthur and Co. in administration

    MacArthur and Co, the company providing financial advice to the project, goes into administration. Nirah play down significance, saying that it will only affect their office space.
  • End of Bedfordshire County Council

    Bedfordshire County Council ceases to exist. It is replace by two new unitary authorities; Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire.
  • Hanson writ

    Nirah issue a High Court writ to Quest pit owner Hanson, who have not handed over land for the agreed fee of £2. Nirah ask Central Bedfordshire council for money to fight the case but are refused.
  • Councillors in the dark

    Bedford Borough Council leaders say that they are not being given information on Nirah project and this is a problem now that Mayor Branston has fallen ill. Richard Stay says if councillors want an update they should ask him.
  • Mayor Frank Branston dies

    Mayor Frank Branston dies from an aortic aneurysm aged 70.
  • Nirah win court case

    Nirah win High Court case.Hanson have to sign the Section 106 agreement to give them land.
  • A Nirah update

    Councillor Richard Stay says that Nirah is still on track and that the lack of information is not due to secrecy but to let the people at the project get on with their jobs. He adds that the economic climate is affecting the funding talks.
  • A further update

    Nirah chairman Keith Edelman reveals that the project si still in talks to secure funding.