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Sea water improvement plan

£300,000 worth of works to improve the sea water quality at the University of St Andrews’ Sea Mammal Research Unit are to commence next week (w/c 10 June 2002).

The works, in the interest of both environmental research and animal welfare, follow an award to the University from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council Science Research Infrastructure Fund (SRIF), part of a multi- million pound package granted to the University last year.

The Sea Mammal Research Unit, housed within the Gatty Marine Laboratory, is a world-class research centre, dedicated to exploring the physiology, ecology and behaviour of seals and whales and the corresponding implications for conservation and management. The Unit, primarily funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), provides advice to government departments and international organisations on all aspects of marine mammal science.

A spokesman for the Gatty Marine Laboratory said, “The marine aquarium is an essential and central feature of the Gatty Marine Laboratory’s research facilities. It is important to keep the facility up to date and this new development will maintain our state-of-the-art research aquaria as arguably the best in Scotland. Many marine animals are highly sensitive to the quality of water they live in. The new system will allows us to maintain high flow rates, take automatic samples of marine plankton from St Andrews Bay, and to pump water from the sea at most states of the tide. It will improve our ability to study the vast array of marine organisms ranging from plankton to small sharks and seals.”

Scheduled to last approximately 12 weeks, the works will be split into four parts, consisting of a combination of pipe work and construction of a new pumphouse, much of which will be underground.

In early June, in advance of the height of the tourist season, two trenches will be dug on the East Sands to allow pipes to be laid. In the interests of safety, the area will be taped off and, in accordance with stringent safety standards, a watchman will be on duty when tidal conditions expose the site of the works until the sand consolidates. This should happen over a period of two tides.

Meanwhile, in August, when the area experiences one of the two lowest tides of the year, four filter beds collecting water from the sea will be constructed by digging 75 metre long trenches at the site of each filter.

A new low-structure pumphouse will also be built. The building, which will take approximately six weeks to complete with an anticipated start on site of 10 June, will be a low-profile building, much of which will be underground, with only half of the roof exposed. The current pumphouse will be demolished shortly after.

Pipes will also be laid taking water from the pumphouse to the Gatty which will involve the coastal path being closed during the day throughout the bulk of June and July. However, in the interests of what is an important public amenity, the path will re- open during the evenings and weekends whenever possible but this will be dependent on maintaining public safety. However, a large section of the sea front will remain available for walkers/visitors. Signposted diversions will be in place.

The works will involve four or five parking spaces in front of the Gatty building being reserved to allow vehicles to manouvere in safety. Gatty/University staff will be offered alternative parking at Albany Park.

The University would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused but would stress that the timings of these necessary works is largely dictated by the fact that they are highly tide- dependent.

ENDS

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: gatty/standrews/chg/6june2002

 

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