Kilsyth’s part in major Antarctic engineering partnership

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The Kilsyth office of BAM Nuttall is now working to help the British Antarctic Survey to modernise research stations where vital work is carried out by UK scientists.

BAM has been commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council in a long-term deal worth around £100 million over the next 7-10 years.

The programme, which also involves design consultants Sweco, is intended to keep the UK at the forefront of climate, bodiversity and ocean research in Antarctica.

One of the first projects to be tackled is redeveloping the wharf at Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula.

This station is the gateway for UK science operations deep inside Antarctica and the wharf redevelopment is needed to accommodate the RRS Sir David Attenborough. The team will also build new storage and living quarters at Rothera.

Other projects include modernising research stations on Signy Island (South Orkney Islands), Bird Island (South Georgia) and King Edward Poin (South Georgia).

Stephen Fox CBE, chief executive of BAM Nuttall, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this prestigious contract from NERC and very much look forward to partnering with the technical and operational teams at British Antarctic Survey.

“The opportunity to apply our skills and capability in remote, environmentally sensitive areas gives our delivery team a unique and rewarding experience.

“This project will provide a great opportunity to showcase British innovation in digital design and manufacture.

“We are fully committed to developing our workforce and will look forward to involving our young engineers through apprenticeship and graduate programmes.”

The Antarctic construction projects will present unique challenges given the contintent is the highest, driest, coldest and windiest on Earth, and most construction work will need to be completed during the four-month window of the Antarctic summer. Construction workers will live and work alongside science teams in harsh and remote environments, sometimes in sub-zero temperatures.

The British Antarctic Survey studies Antarctic sediments and ice cores, which provides information on past climates which can help to prepare for what will happen in the future.