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Ground-breaking ceremony marks start of work on £16m marine science headquarters

The youngest and oldest employees bury a time capsule at the Cefas ground break. Picture: Mick Howes

The youngest and oldest employees bury a time capsule at the Cefas ground break. Picture: Mick Howes

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A ground-breaking ceremony marking the start of construction on a new £16m marine science centre in Lowestoft has been held.

The time capsule being buried at the Cefas ground-breaking ceremony. Picture: Darren Carter.
The time capsule being buried at the Cefas ground-breaking ceremony. Picture: Darren Carter.

The work will see new headquarters built for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) at its site on Pakefield Cliffs in Lowestoft.

The major renovation will see Cefas’ current building, the former Grand Hotel, demolished and replaced with a new research centre.

The event, held yesterday was attended by funding supporters from Defra and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, along with local councillors, residents, staff and contractors.

Lowestoft deputy mayor Peter Knight at the Cefas ground-breaking ceremony. Picture: Darren Carter.Lowestoft deputy mayor Peter Knight at the Cefas ground-breaking ceremony. Picture: Darren Carter.

Building work on the new office is due to begin shortly, with the completion date set for May 2020.

Cefas has been based in Lowestoft since 1902, when it began as a small fisheries laboratory. The centre now employs some 600 staff between Lowestoft, Weymouth, English ports, Kuwait and Oman.

Following an address by CEO Tom Karsten, a time capsule containing recent Cefas scientific papers; letters to the future from young Cefas apprentices; a re-useable water bottle - reflecting organisational commitments to reducing marine plastics, and other artefacts were buried to commemorate the occasion.

Mr Karsten said: “I thank Defra, New Anglia LEP, local councillors and the many others for their support for our exciting new Lowestoft headquarters development.

“This will be a vital step in realising our vision of a new era of Cefas and Defra leadership in providing world class science to manage the marine and freshwater environment.

“Cefas has played a leading role in the UK and Lowestoft’s marine history over the past 116 years. The renewal of our Lowestoft headquarters represents an important chapter in this history and future opportunities for our continued development.”

After securing the final piece of funding in January this year, Cefas said the new research centre could save it up to £2m a year in running costs and would safeguard 440 jobs at the Pakefield Road site as well as enabling it to employ 12 to 15 apprentices a year.

Saul Humphrey, managing director of Morgan Sindall’s East region, said: “We are pleased to be officially marking the start of construction on this important development, which will provide Cefas with outstanding facilities to support their globally-relevant research and anchor our region as a centre for marine science excellence in the UK.

“Our team is already making good progress and we look forward to working closely with Cefas and the wider project team as we deliver this landmark centre.”

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