Friday 6 December 2013

BGS in Scotland

There are significant changes ahead for BGS in Scotland. All are positive and underpinned by investments in estates, new NERC sponsored Doctoral training initiatives with Scottish universities and new programmes of research in geohazards, environmental sustainability and resource security.

BGS has about 180 staff based in Scotland. Most are in Murchison house, which is based on the University of Edinburgh’s King’s Building campus. We also have a facility for handling heavy marine drilling infrastructure at Loanhead, Edinburgh.

We intend to relocate all of our Edinburgh activities to the Heriot Watt University (HWU) campus over the next two years. This is an opportunity in that we can regroup and develop synergies in key areas with HWU, notably in the resources sector in partnership with the Institute for Petroleum Engineering, but also with the Marine Sectors and the Institute for the Built Environment. The focus on transformation of research to innovation at HWU through spin-out and spin-in activities and joint ventures with industry is attractive to BGS business development. 

We will relocate all of our staff to the Sir Charles Lyell Centre which will be a state of the art facility incorporating our staff and about 100 HWU staff plus laboratories. We also intend to relocate the marine infrastructure warehouse on the HWU site as part of the research centre.

In all about 25% of BGS activities are based in Scotland and we see the new development in HWU as underpinning this investment. Furthermore, we will enhance collaboration with other Scottish Universities, both in creating joint research programmes and through the NERC Doctoral Training Centres with Edinburgh University, the Centre for Doctoral Training in oil and gas that will be managed by HWU and a consortium IAPETUS headed by DurhamUniversity.

We will build on our geohazards work with the University of Edinburgh and other UK universities and European institutes. For example: we will be doubling the density of  our seismic grid in creating UK-Array with Edinburgh, Bristol and Leicester Universities; we will continue to intensify monitoring volcanic activity in Iceland in partnership with UK HEI; we will enhance our monitoring programme of the Earth’s magnetic field with the University of Edinburgh and the British Antarctic Survey.

BGS also works with Edinburgh and Glasgow universities in managing NERC services and facilities in mass spectrometry at the Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre, the Ion Probe and the Geophysical Equipment Pool in Edinburgh. We are founding members of BritGeothermal with Durham and Glasgow universities. We will continue collaboration with Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrews University in key disciplines and also work with the James Hutton Institute and marine institutes in Scotland.

Despite the disruption in moving facilities and staff, which I understand and which will be managed in an efficient and compassionate way by BGS support staff, the future for BGS science in Scotland is extremely positive and I predict an expansion of our research activities and innovative joint ventures with Scottish universities and companies.