Defence Minister Philip Dunne MP has launched the next phase of building work to provide new state-of-the-art facilities at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s (Dstl) Porton Down site.
The buildings will allow Dstl scientists and engineers to conduct trials which range from testing protective equipment for our armed forces to forensic analysis work on behalf of UK police.
The facilities will also cater for additional equipment and staff moving as part of the multi-million pound Helios project - the planned relocation of Dstl from Fort Halstead in Kent.
The first phase of work has now completed, with more than 20 Magazines having been constructed to the highest safety and security standards to hold explosive materials. This includes substantial reinforced concrete, and lightning and independent earth protection to ensure the safety of staff and the surrounding area.
Explosive materials are all handled in accordance with stringent regulatory processes and different materials will be held in each Magazine to ensure their safe storage. For example, detection training kits for military working dogs cannot come into contact with propellants as this would provide a false indicator for the animals, so they need to be stored in separate locations.
During his visit, the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne MP, announced the second phase of building work which will see the construction of explosive processing facilities. He said:
The Ministry of Defence is investing £115 million in project Helios, including developing modern facilities here in Wiltshire, a clear demonstration of the importance we attach to the work that Dstl carries out for the defence and security of our nation. This investment will help provide fit for purpose state of the art facilities to allow some 650 jobs to relocate here to Porton Down in Wiltshire.
Future building work includes designs for facilities for use by Dstl’s Forensic Explosives Laboratory (FEL) as it relocates to Porton Down from Kent. The FEL supports the UK’s police force investigating incidents of explosives, with samples ranging from device fragments to unknown powders. The new buildings will need to be designed to ensure there is no contamination of items, there is temperature control and conductive flooring to prevent any static build-up.
Dstl’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Lyle, said:
Today is another key milestone in our plan to invest in modern facilities at Porton Down. We are delighted to be playing our part in supporting Salisbury and South Wiltshire’s vision for a world class science and engineering hub.