Work begins on £30m water research centre in Exeter

A turf cutting ceremony took place on the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus, to mark the beginning of construction of a pioneering new facility for the Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW), a partnership between the University of Exeter and South West Water.

Part funded by a £10.5M UKRPIF grant from Research England and investment from both partners, CREWW will be the first purpose built, transdisciplinary research centre in the water sector, building on many years of collaboration and representing a step change in the University’s partnership with the water company.

The CREWW will combine expertise in Geography, Biosciences, Engineering, Economics, and Psychology at the University with SWW industry colleagues to develop solutions to some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. Including how best to manage our finite natural resources in sustainable ways, and how to protect and adapt those communities and habitats which are vulnerable to climate change and population growth.

The new centre will accommodate state-of-the-art, specialist laboratory facilities, and designated space to encourage collaborative research and training between academics and experts from the water industry, government and NGOs.

Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter, Professor Lisa Roberts, said: “It is fantastic to mark this significant step in our journey to become a leading University in climate and environmental research. The new CREWW facility supports the University’s long term vision, as part of our 10 year Strategy 2030, to lead meaningful action against the climate emergency and ecological crisis.

“CREWW will lead pivotal interdisciplinary research, bringing together our best minds from across multiple disciplines with industry experts at South West Water, to discover solutions that will make a difference to peoples’ lives and protect the future of water systems in the South West, the UK and on a global scale.”

South West Water will play a leading role in the development and success of the new centre, investing over £20million into the collaborative programme over the period of 2020-25, and beyond.

Susan Davy, Chief Executive Officer for Pennon Group, which owns South West Water, attended the turf cutting ceremony. Susan said: “We are delighted to celebrate work starting on the new CREWW building and can’t wait to see the facility take shape. This partnership will help find solutions to some of the most pressing issues our region faces and mitigate risks from challenges such as climate change. Through collaborative research and innovation we will together play a leading role in protecting and enhancing our natural environment.”

Located on North Park Road on Streatham Campus, opposite Laver and Harrison buildings and adjacent to the Amory building, the CREWW centre will be in the heart of Streatham Campus. A public consultation on the proposed plans for the CREWW building was held in March 2021 and the scheme was granted planning approval by Exeter City Council in July 2021.

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