Saturday, July 13, 2024

Redevelopment plan to reset Scott Base

Antarctica New Zealand has today released a plan that resets the Scott Base Redevelopment project, after an options analysis was undertaken in late 2023, followed by an independent review in April this year.

The plan is to build a new accommodation and living building, to refurbish the Hillary Field Centre dedicated to support scientific work, to scope a third building for workshops, plant and machinery, and to extend the life of current buildings where practicable.

The new redevelopment plan will be supported by a masterplan that ensures the infrastructure can adapt to meet the changing needs of science and the impacts of environmental and climate change.

The Independent Review Panel included construction, engineering and large project experts Bob Hall, Waren Warfield, Peter Leslie and Adam Feeley. 

The Panel recommended using a small modular construction methodology that allows for containerised delivery and conventional shipping to Antarctica. Some of the new construction will be conventional framing built onsite.

The new plan means Antarctica New Zealand will not proceed with the proposed three-building design, using a large module construction methodology. Transport of the modules was considered to carry too great a risk and the need for fewer new buildings made it less viable economically.

Antarctica New Zealand’s recommendations are supported by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, who will be providing guidance to the Chair on next steps towards a revised business case for Cabinet consideration.

Antarctica New Zealand’s board chair, Leon Grice, says the decision by the board in 2023 to pause and undertake options analysis paved the way for the Independent Review.

“This work has allowed the board to resolve a way forward with confidence and ensure we deliver the redevelopment scope within the budget set aside in the Government’s tagged contingency,” he said.

“We are re-establishing governance oversight and the project team, revising the design work and commencing detailed costings.

“We are highly focused on providing a year-round safe and functional base for our staff and the scientists we support who undertake world-class science,” Mr Grice says. 

Antarctica New Zealand Chief Executive, Sarah Williamson says the reasons to redevelop Scott Base remain.

“New Zealand needs safe and fit-for-purpose infrastructure that can withstand extreme conditions and support world leading science. Antarctica is extreme, remote, and unforgiving. We need a fully self-sufficient off-the-grid building for the coldest, windiest, harshest place on Earth.

“Antarctica New Zealand’s new plan is not starting from scratch as a lot of the design work can be translated from large to small module construction.  Our goal is to turn the key in the 2028/29 season,” Ms Williamson says.

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