PROPOSALS for an £85million Jurassic Coast visitor attraction on Portland to rival the Eden Project have gained further support from more than 60 Dorset businesses.

The ambitious Jurassica vision, which has the backing of Sir David Attenborough and Eden Project supremo Sir Tim Smit, is to build a subterranean geological park in the former Yeolands quarry on the east side of the island.

Jurassica is inspired by the Eden Project and is the brainchild of science journalist Michael Hanlon, who grew up in Dorset and searched for fossils on the coast.

Exclusive preliminary design sketches have also been unveiled by Italian architect Renzo Piano, whose work includes the Shard in London.

More than 60 Dorset businesses and organisations showed their support for the project by attending a Jurassica presentation evening by Mr Hanlon in Bournemouth.

Businesses included Balfour Beatty, Princecroft Willis, Ruseena investment funding company and Savills as a potential sponsor, together with the Portland Harbour Authority.

Speaking to supporters on the night, Mr Hanlon said: “Jurassica will only happen if enough people, businesses and organisations give it their support.”

Showcasing world-class paleontological remains including dinosaurs, marine reptiles and plants, the park would be covered with a translucent ‘spider web’ roof.

The site, which would include an aquarium, is being described as about a third of the size of the Millennium Dome.

Mr Hanlon added: “I’m aware it is a very big and ambitious project. It would cost £85million to create and would employ more than 200 people.

“It aims to be an educational and heritage-focused charitable trust and would act as a hub for the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“Jurassica will be very eco-friendly, using solar panels to generate its own power and hopefully reviving the park and ride scheme that was part of the Olympic transport system.

“I believe this will be the most important economic development in West Dorset since the 2012 Olympics, and will raise the profile of Weymouth and Portland on a long-term basis.”

Construction time is estimated to be three to five years and if funding can be secured, the project aims to be open by 2019.

Portland historian Stuart Morris said: “The plan is very ambitious but that’s how you start on things like this. It could be Portland’s Eden.”

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