£60m plan to turn university into climate research hotspot

The university campus plans have been described as 'world class'. Picture: Jon Savage
The university campus plans have been described as 'world class'. Picture: Jon Savage
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UNIVERSITY bosses have revealed plans for a £60 million campus aimed at making the Capital one of the world’s leading climate research
locations.

A 21,000 square metre “world-class” school of geosciences facility is to be created at King’s Buildings.

The project, which will also see redevelopment of the King’s Buildings site, is expected to begin in spring 2016 with a completion date of 2018.

The school is ranked 16th in the world for ecological and marine research and 14th for geography, and it is hoped the new cutting-edge facility will propel the university into the top ten.

The present school of 
geosciences is spread across three city campuses, its base being Drummond Street.

Tenders are being sought for the new teaching and research facility from some of the world’s leading design teams.

Head of school Professor Sandy Tudhope said: “This move will help to consolidate the school of geosciences as a world leader while also allowing us to expand and grow. In future years, we hope to break into the world top ten of learning and research institutions within this field.

“The school was formed several years ago through the joining of several departments. At present, about a third of the school is based at Drummond Street, while the rest is dotted around the King’s Building’s campus.

He added: “We are very much concerned with a lot of modern buzzwords to do with environmental change and climate change and urbanisation.”

The school boasts more than 1000 undergraduates, 250 post-graduates and 250 masters students. It also employs more than 370 academics, researchers and research students, making the school the largest grouping of geoscientists in the UK.

A statement on the university website reads: “We aim to understand the interaction between the Earth’s geology, atmosphere, oceans, biosphere and human responses and roles in this complex interplay.”

News of the research and training facility has been welcomed by Lothians Green MSP Alison Johnstone, who said: “Clearly this is further recognition that Edinburgh’s expertise and excellence in fields of research continues to grow.

“It is also heartening to see the importance of the study of the particular subjects. We are right to repeatedly discuss the economy, which is very important, but the importance of these areas of study also have considerable impact on us and the world around us, some might say even more.

“It is essential that we begin to better understand our effect on the planet.”

The news comes hot on the heels of the opening the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation – the first facility of its kind in the world – which is aimed at bringing together experts to work on ways to achieve a low-carbon future.

The centre, based in the Old High School, was opened by Princess Anne earlier this month.

The £10.5m hub took 19 months to complete.

david.oleary@edinburghnews.com