Major theme park planned for Jurassic coast

Dorset's answer to the Eden Project is on the cards in the form of Jurassica, an £85m theme park focusing on dinosaurs and plants.

The attraction in an old quarry on the Isle of Portland is based on the Jurassic coast, a world heritage site, and will mimic the prehistoric world in a 40m deep pit.

Plans unveiled late last year were inspired by the Eden Project, built in a Cornwall clay pit. Paleontological remains on show will include plants as well as dinosaurs and marine animals.

The geological park, a third of the size of the Millennium Dome, will be covered with a glass and steel dome spanning 100m, housing a landscape echoing one from 140 million years ago.

Jurassica is the brainchild of science journalist Michael Hanlon. Naturalist Sir David Attenborough and Eden founder Sir Tim Smit are said to have thrown their support behind the initiative.

Conceptual designs have been drawn up by Renzo Piano, the world-famous architect who created the Shard tower block in London and the iconic Pompidou Centre in Paris.

Funding and support are being sought from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Natural History Museum and other sources. Hanlon also hopes to attract private investment.

Building work is expected to take three-to-five years and the park could be open in 2019. Projected visitor numbers are 700,000 a year and entry costs for a family could be up to £70.

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