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Construction partner chosen to modernise Antarctic infrastructure

Construction expert BAM has been chosen to partner with British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to modernise UK Antarctic and other research facilities, enabling British scientists to continue delivering world class research into some of the most important issues facing our planet. BAM has teamed up with major European design consultants Sweco to assist with project delivery.

Commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), this long-term UK partnership will last between 7-10 years and is worth an estimated approximately €120 million (£100 million). The modernisation programme will enable a world-leading capability to ensure that Britain remains at the forefront of climate, biodiversity and ocean research in the Polar regions.

One of the first projects to be undertaken will be the redevelopment of the wharf at Rothera Research Station which, with its relatively accessible position on the Antarctic Peninsula, is a gateway for UK science operations deep in Antarctica. The wharf redevelopment is required to accommodate the new state-of-the-art polar research vessel the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

In addition to building a new wharf, storage and living quarters at Rothera, other Antarctic development projects that will be undertaken include modernising buildings and facilities at BAS research stations on Signy Island (South Orkney Islands), Bird Island (South Georgia) and at King Edward Point (South Georgia).

The Antarctic construction projects will present unique challenges given the continent 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.

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 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 project will be delivered by BAM’s British civil engineer BAM Nuttall and BAM International, the operating company of Royal BAM Group active outside Europe.

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