Local marine park gets £4.5M funding nod

The European Marine Science Park, Dunstaffnage, near Oban in Argyll.

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Funding for two new developments at the European Marine Science Park at Dunstaffnage has been given the go-ahead in a move expected to create 30 well-paid jobs.

The Highlands and Islands Enterprise Agency has announced that nearly £2million will be invested in fitting out the ground floor of the park’s Malin House.

It is to meet increasing demand for laboratory and office space for growing marine businesses.

A further investment of £2.77m will take place in groundworks, road development and car parking for the next three buildings at the site.

One already has planning permission and the groundworks costs are supported by Sustrans funding.

It will include the upgrade of Kirk Road to improve facilities for cycling and pedestrians.

The contract for the groundworks, road development and car parking has been awarded to Argyll firm, TSL Contractors Limited.

Work is expected to start soon, with a completion anticipated around July.

Morag Goodfellow, HIE’s area manager for Argyll and the Islands, said the Highlands and Islands had an outstanding marine environment which made it a fitting home for world-class marine science, innovation and enterprise.

‘It’s important that the region benefits from emerging opportunities from the marine economy, which will help increase productivity and provide valuable rural employment.

‘The European Marine Science Park is right at the heart of that. These further investments at the park will support the sustainable growth of our marine industry and contribute to economic recovery.

‘They will create opportunities in skills development and entrepreneurship, particularly for young people, and enhance confidence in Argyll as a business location for inward investors.’

Donald Cameron, the Highlands and Islands MSP, said: ‘This very significant investment is a vote of confidence in the potential of the marine cluster at Dunstaffnage and I very much welcome it.’

Malin House was completed in 2012 and has been fully occupied for some time with 10  different marine sector companies now calling it home.

The new investment has been prompted by companies at the park expressing need for additional space to enable to expand their commercial activity.

The design of the new workspaces has been undertaken in consultation with the companies.

Norwegian-based fish health firm, PatoGen Ltd, is expanding into the UK market from its existing base at Malin House.

Dr Teresa Garzon, key account manager said: ‘We are establishing a laboratory for our preventive and diagnostic services in Oban.

‘PatoGen have been working in Scotland since 2014 and established our office at the EMSP campus in Oban in August 2018.

‘Since PatoGen entered the Scottish market we have collaborated well with the (fish) farming companies with steady increase in activity. The laboratory in Oban is planned to be operational during the summer 2021.’

Adjacent to Malin House is the Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS), part of the University of the Highlands and Islands network. It plays a key role in nurturing incubation companies before they look to expand into Malin House.

With a global climate emergency declared, researchers at SAMS and commercial firms at the EMSP are said to be playing a key role at the forefront of safeguarding the oceans through a greater understanding of the marine environment.