THE people behind the proposed multimillion pound "dinosaur" museum on Portland have expressed their disappointment after missing out on Heritage Lottery funding.

Jurassica, backed by Sir David Attenborough, will celebrate the geological heritage of the Jurassic Coast, and is scheduled to open in 2021.

It will feature a recreation of a beach as it would have been in the Jurassic era, complete with pterosaurs perching on clifftops, and animatronic pleiosaurs, the "dinosaurs" of the sea.

The company behind the ambitious scheme, which would transform one of Portland's disused quarries, had applied for a development grant worth £500,000.

This would have allowed the project to continue to apply for £16million worth of funding in 2016.

Representatives from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) inspected the site, based at Yeolands Quarry, in February. They also spoke to civic leaders to establish how much support there was for the project.

Early concepts for the site include a recreation of a Jurassic seashore labelled the Jurassic Cove, animatronic marine reptiles and virtual technology.

But although representatives recognised the project for its innovativeness and potential, the HLF have taken the decision on this occasion to award money elsewhere.

Michael Hanlon, science journalist and chief executive of Jurassica, said the decision would not affect plans to open in 2021.

He said: “Jurassica is pleased that the HLF has recognised that we are an ambitious, innovative and groundbreaking project with the potential to transform the economy of Portland and Dorset.

“We are disappointed that we have missed out in this round of funding, but we retain the support of our private sector backers and will be reapplying for lottery funds later this year.

“The HLF officers and board have asked us to strengthen our bid in a number of areas, including the creation of a comprehensive inventory of fossils and other heritage material from the Jurassic Coast. We are pleased that we now have a dedicated geological consultant as part of the team doing just that.

“We must thank the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership for supporting Jurassica during the vital, and difficult, feasibility stage. We also thank the last and current UK government for their continuing support, as well as Weymouth and Portland Borough and Dorset County councils.

“Work on Jurassica will continue and we do not foresee this decision having any effect on our plans to open our gates in 2021.”