The unique £5 Million Research Park, based at Baglan Bay, Port Talbot, South Wales will, over the next three years, develop technologies which will help regenerate brownfield land throughout Wales while also developing sustainable methods of industrial waste management and industrial material reprocessing.
The project brings together academic, industrial and government organisations from across Wales to develop world-leading expertise in sustainable land management, clean-up technologies and reprocessing and re-use of alternative materials. The park will also bring in new high-technology companies, creating jobs locally and in associated projects throughout Wales.
The Geoenvironmental Research Park (GRP) is part-funded by European Objective 1 funds and, while it is led by Cardiff University's Geoenvironmental Research Centre, involves a number of private and public sector partners.
Dr Robert Francis, of the University's Geoenvironmental Research Centre, said: "This development will bring benefits locally in high-quality employment and investment, and to the whole of Wales through the environmental improvements that will result. It gives Wales the opportunity to build on existing expertise and become a world-leader in this technology."
The full consortium of partners involved in the project from the outset are Cardiff University's Geoenvironmental Research Centre, The Welsh Development Agency, TRL Limited - the UK's leading transport research centre, Minton Treharne and Davies - the analytical chemists, Trinity College Carmarthen, BP Chemicals Ltd, Excel Fibre Technology Ltd, and the consortium of Welsh environmental science companies - The Hafren Group.
TRL's Regional Manager for Wales, Dr John Lewis said "The GRP focuses on sustainability and includes the development and demonstration of innovative remediation and reprocessing techniques. New applications for alternative materials will also be studied, particularly materials that are sourced locally and that form part of Wales' industrial heritage."
Mr Sean Connick, WDA Environmental Goods and Services Project Manager added that the Research Park "compliments the work of the Agency and the National Assembly Government in enabling support for the Welsh Environmental Sector by the provision of advice and technical expertise to new and existing companies developing into the high growth global Environmental Goods and Services market."
The GRP will be used to conduct a range of front line research, as well as acting as an 'incubator' for a number of high-tech companies working in the broad field of the environment and sustainability. In this way the Park will be involved in programmes of research, application, and development for problems dealing with environmental sustainability not only on the GRP site but also on other satellite sites throughout Wales. A fully equipped laboratory will be housed on site and this and other facilities will be used to support companies with their specific projects.
The Research Park project as a whole therefore provides field trial opportunities to develop and demonstrate new techniques throughout the whole of Wales. It also gives companies the opportunity to test their own geoenvironmental experiments and innovative technologies with high-class monitoring and control schemes by using the facilities and expert knowledge of the Research Park.
The consortium has already started on a number of key projects for new remediation techniques as well as new and innovative methods of dealing with alternative materials which they are testing on the GRP and other satellite sites throughout Wales. Transferring this new technology from concepts and experimental research to industry is an important aspect of the GRP's work.
"The transfer of this technology to industry is seen as vital for the success of this project," explains Dr Rob Francis. "In order to ensure that the R&D findings are utilised as quickly and as fully as possible, several Welsh based companies have already been engaged to exploit the new technologies developed on the site. This will result in the creation of a number of new specialist companies. However, it should be emphasised that these new companies will not be displacing existing companies, as they will be working in areas currently outside the expertise of the existing technology base in Wales and even the rest of the UK."
Existing companies in Wales will also be able to take advantage of the new technologies as they are developed and they will be in an advantageous position to make first use of the work of the GRP and to expand their own technology base.
Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies said: "This is an exciting project which will help build on Wales' experience and reputation for innovation in this field. It also demonstrates how European Objective 1 funds are helping to create top quality new jobs and regenerate Welsh communities."
Minister for Environment Sue Essex said: "This is an outstanding development for Wales and I warmly congratulate everyone involved in the project. It will keep Wales at the leading edge of geoenvironmental research, not only in the UK, but also worldwide. Exploiting the knowledge economy to the full is the cornerstone of our national economic development strategy A Winning Wales. A world-quality research park such as this is exactly what is needed to take Wales forward in this exciting and valuable field of geoenvironmental sustainability in the years to come."
For more information about the Geoenvironmental Research Park's activities and how they can be of value to you, visit the web site at http://www.