A “PIONEERING” research centre for earth and marine science officially opened at a Scottish university yesterday.

The £21 million Lyell Centre, at Heriot-Watt in Edinburgh, brings together the expertise of the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the university’s academic work to ensure future generations of researchers can meet the “global science and technology challenges facing the world”. Teams there are currently working on tackling climate change in sub-Saharan Africa and deep-sea mining solutions, as well as protections for coastal ecosystems.

The merger with BGS has helped create the only facility in the country where deep ocean floor drilling is mirrored within the research laboratories. It also includes the most advanced research aquarium in the UK. Opening the centre, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said it will provide “a strong platform for solving complex challenges”.

University principal Richard A Williams said: “Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. Understanding how our planet works in order to limit the damage caused is critical.”

Meanwhile, new approaches in using and sharing the marine environment will come under the spotlight today at the start of a three-day conference.

Experts in physical, chemical, biological and mathematical sciences will discuss the development of wave energy, offshore decommissioning and the restoration of the ecosystem in the firth of Clyde.

The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) event in Glasgow will also focus on how island communities can adapt to the impact of climate change.

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