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A new division of the UK Atomic Energy Authority set up to help deliver the environmental  restoration  of  former  nuclear research facilities such as Dounreay  is to be based on a business park being developed in Caithness by the private sector.

UKAEA  has  signed  an  agreement  with New Park Highland Ltd to become the first  tenant of Forss Business and Technology Park, a former US Navy shore station being  redeveloped  as  a  business  centre  for  decommissioning expertise with assistance from Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise, part of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise network.

UKAEA  hopes  the  move  will  seed  the  growth  of a major centre for the decommissioning  industry  in  the  UK,  as  well as enabling it to work in closer  partnership  with  companies  involved  in  the  decommissioning of Dounreay.

Approximately  140  members  of  staff  of  currently based at Dounreay are expected to take up occupancy at Forss in the summer.  They  are  part of the UKAEA's new Major Projects and Engineering Division, whose  director  Dr Colin Bayliss said: "The decision by the private sector and  CASE  to  invest in a business park at Forss for companies involved in decommissioning  is  a  good  example  of  the  opportunities  for economic development  that  are  being generated by the record levels of spending on
contracts to restore the environment of Dounreay.

"I'm  pleased that our new division was able to become the anchor tenant at Forss.  It  is  good  news  for  my  staff, who will have excellent, modern accommodation   from   which   they   can   bring  to  fruition  the  major decommissioning  challenges  at  Dounreay and other sites.  It is good news for  the site because it reduces congestion when major construction work is happening.  And  it  is  good  news for the local economy because it is the catalyst  for  further investment by the private sector in Forss to provide facilities  for  companies  who  win  the  contracts  to  deliver the major projects.

"Dounreay   is  the  largest  single  decommissioning  project  yet  to  be undertaken  in  the  UK,  with some 95 million a year now being awarded in contracts.  I'm  pleased  that  in  working  with the Highlands and Islands Enterprise network to meet our own accommodation needs we have been able at
the  same  time  to  contribute in such a meaningful way to the sustainable development of the local economy."

Brian  Wilson,  the Minister for Energy and Construction, also welcomed the announcement. He said: "The decision to redevelop the disused site at Forss underlines  the  opportunity the decommissioning of Dounreay represents and I'm  pleased  to  see  UKAEA  working  closely  with  Highlands and Islands Enterprise  and the private sector to make the most of these opportunities.

I  hope  the  UKAEA's  decision  will encourage companies doing business at Dounreay to invest in the area."  New  Park  Highland  expects  a  range  of  local  and national contracting companies  to  confirm their interest in taking space at Forss now that the tenancy  of  UKAEA's  Major  Projects  and  Engineering  Division  has been secured. Company chairman Murdo Mackenzie said: "The planned 6m investment in the development of Forss would not have been possible without the active participation  and  partnership approach of UKAEA and Highlands and Islands Enterprise."

Carroll  Buxton,  chief  executive  of Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise, said:  "The  development  of  the  Business  and  Technology  Park at Forss demonstrates  how an effective partnership between UKAEA, the Highlands and Islands  Enterprise  Network  and  the  private sector can create long term
benefits  for  the  local  economy  from  the  decommissioning process. The financial  contribution  from  CASE  and the location of key staff by UKAEA will  enable  New Park to develop infrastructure at Forss that will help to exploit the business opportunities that decommissioning will create."

Major Projects and Engineering Division was formed by UKAEA during 2002 to bring sharper focus to the delivery of major decommissioning projects at Dounreay and its other former nuclear research and development sites, including Harwell and Risley.

Dr Colin Bayliss joined UKAEA as director of planning and performance in 1997, having worked on major projects for a number of engineering consultancies and contractors. He was engineering director for the Channel Tunnel main contractor and was for two years technical and engineering director of Nirex. A board member of UKAEA, he has been based at Dounreay since August 1997.

The Dounreay Site Restoration Plan was published by UKAEA in October 2000 and identifies approximately 1500 projects required to restore the environment of the site over a 50-60 year period at a cost in the region of 4 billion. It can be viewed at www.ukaea.org.uk.

UKAEA is currently spending 140-150 million per annum on decommissioning Dounreay, which contributes an estimated 75 million a year to the economy of the Highlands. The value of contracts let each year is currently worth approximately 95 million.

The HIE network is contributing over 600,000 towards environmental improvements at Forss.