Science centre gets extension go-ahead

Artists impression by Sheppard Robson of the new facility at Easter Bush.
Artists impression by Sheppard Robson of the new facility at Easter Bush.

Edinburgh University’s planning application for a new research and imaging facility at its Easter Bush campus was approved last week.

The £15-20 million facility at the The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies will support the study of the biology of large animals, with scanning and imaging facilities similar to those found in a human hospital, such as MRI, ultrasound and CT scanners.

The new building, funded by the university, UK Government research funding and Scottish Government contributions, will be constructed on the vacant field adjacent to the existing buildings, and is expected to open in late 2018.

Doctor Timothy King, deputy head of the veterinary school near Penicuik, was happy that the planning application was accepted.

He said: “I’m absolutely delighted. This is just a continual improvement of our facility, in work which we are already conducting.

“It’s a facility for housing sheep, cattle and pigs.

‘‘It also has state of the art equipment for MRI and CT scans which we have been researching for a number of years. These have obviously been used for humans for quite some time but now we can see there is value in studying animal diseases with them.

“It will be unique in Scotland.

‘‘There are maybe one or two other places in England that have this type of facilities, but not linked with the same research we do at Roslin Institute.”

The school currently has 800 under graduate students and 200 post graduate students.

Dr King is confident that this new facility will further enhance its reputation as a world leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical practice, 21 years after cloning Dolly the Sheep.

He said: “The building itself will only have eight new staff, but it will attract scientists to join the vet schools, so there will be a knock on effect.

“It’s such a sophisticated facility so it takes a long while to build it.

“The equipment is hugely expensive, so with that included in the building the total cost will be £15-20m, which is a lot of money.

“It’s probably a unique campus in the UK with the facilities and the history of what has been achieved here.”

Midlothian Council’s planning committee approved the application subject to conditions including developer contributions to local transport infrastructure, with cycle routes highlighted.