Thurso, the most northerly town in mainland UK, looks out across the Pentland Firth to the silhouettes of the Orkney Isles. In these dynamic waters, the North Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea, creating a rich array of coastal environments from unspoilt sandy shores to spectacular and precipitous cliffs. Away from the sea, the landscape is equally diverse, from fringes of rich farmland to the characteristic tracts of open peat land known as the “Flow Country.”
The unique nature of this area with its low hills, shallow river valleys, trout lochs and rich traditions has resulted in it being proposed recently as a World Heritage Site.
The Environmental Research Institute (ERI) which was opened in the year 2000 in Castle Street, Thurso, is uniquely placed to access some of Europe’s most distinct and unique habitats, ecosystems and environments. In 2011, The Centre for Energy and Environment (CfEE), was built next to the North Highland College. The £3million CfEE was funded as part of the MaREE project by the EU Regional Development Fund, the Scottish Funding Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The CfEE, built to exacting BREEAM standards, is home to staff working on Renewable Energy and the Environment, Climate Change and Ecology and Ecosystems.
The ERI has a portfolio of multidisciplinary research activities that address contemporary environmental issues.
The ERI’s activities are wide-ranging and include research (applied and fundamental); knowledge transfer; consultancy & commercial services; and education & training. ERI currently focus on a number of priorities:
renewable energy & the environment
ecology & ecosystems
biotechnology & bio-resources, and
emerging contaminants and ecotoxicology.
Research themes at the ERI are issue driven: they address regional, national and international environmental issues. Modern laboratory facilities house a wide range of state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation – including gas chromatography, high performance liquid chromatography, mass spectrometers, scanning electron microscope, etc. Together with the ERI’s modelling and survey capabilities (including a coastal survey vessel), these allow the ERI to undertake environmental research and provide services to a very high standard. As part of North Highland College-UHI, the ERI is also engaged in the provision and delivery of Masters and Ph.D. programmes. Its MSc. by research in Renewable Energy & the Environment has been designed specifically to meet the needs of the emerging renewable energy sector, and accompanies the newly introduced taught MSc courses Sustainable Energy Solutions, and Developing Low Carbon Communities.
As part of its strategic objectives, the ERI seeks to provide quality service and knowledge transfer activity that are relevant and responsive to the needs of the region. ERI’s reputation has been built on the close working relationships developed with local businesses and public agencies across the Highlands in sectors that include renewable energy, aquaculture, distilling, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. This ethos of working in partnership and collaboration has led to involvement in major national and European projects and continues with the TURNKEY project.
Environmental Research Institute
Barbara Bremner, TURNKEY Project Manager
Telephone: 00 44 (0) 1847 889594
Dr Lonneke Goddijn-Murphy
Telephone: 01847 889664
Dr Jason McIlvenny
Telephone: 01847 889663
Dr Diego del Villar Guerra
Telephone: 00 44 (0)1847889673