Bicton’s �3.5million cash boost

Bicton College has secured a �3.5 million cash injection to improve its facilities

Bicton College has secured �3,507,000 from the Skills Funding Agency to develop three flagship training facilities for renewable technologies.

The college has hailed the cash injection as a vote of confidence in Bicton’s work.

David Henley, principal, said: “The funding is a vote of confidence in Bicton College by the Skills Funding Agency and is an acknowledgement of the hard work, drive and commitment given by our staff every day.

“Equine, renewable technologies and animal care are growth areas for the college and for the South West’s economy. The three projects have only one aim – to provide our students with the very best facilities helping them to find fulfilling and meaningful jobs right here in Devon.”

Over �1.5 million is to be spent on Bicton EaRTH, to refurbish existing farm buildings and create a new centre of excellence for renewable technologies.

Bicton EaRTH will deliver professional renewable technologies skills training, meeting a predicted demand of between 500 and 1,000 additional trades people requiring training in renewable technologies each year for the next 10 years.

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In addition, EaRTH will offer Environmental Sustainability Diploma courses for school leavers and include a conferencing and interpretation facility to host events and give impartial renewable energy advice to local businesses, community groups and schools.

Bicton EaRTH has appointed Skinner Construction Limited, of Sidmouth, to begin the retrofit and build. Work will start later this month to transform the disused barns into a carbon neutral building with a BREAMM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) “very good” rating.

The EaRTH building will be powered from photo voltaic panels on the south facing roof and a solar thermal array will provide hot water for the underfloor heating.

A biomass boiler fed by fuel crops grown on the farm will supplement the under floor heating and rainwater will be harvested for use in the centre.

Tim Smit, chief executive and co-founder of the Eden Project, said: “I think this is an important project. Our generation will, I hope, be remembered centuries from now as the one’s who understood the need to revisit the lessons of living with the grain of nature and who developed a new vision for what growth in the future might mean.

“This will only happen if we have places of inspiration where the narrative of the future seems exciting and hopeful rather than bleak and hair shirt. This is why the EaRTH project is important.

“It explores what sustainability may mean and seeks to inspire others to put thoughts into action and, most importantly, carries a hopeful message that together we can meet the challenges and emerge from the experience stronger and happier – I commend it to you.”

The �674,000 refurbishment and improvement of equine facilities will see an upgrade of current facilities to an international sized dressage arena with an improved viewing gallery to seat about 110 people. Two new classrooms with video links to the arena cameras will allow the use of new interactive teaching methods.

Bicton College has seen a significant and growing demand for animal care courses over recent years. An award of over �1.3 million pounds will provide a new, relocated Animal Care Centre with accommodation for a reptile house, aquarium, primate house, and aviary, with a new social area, kitchen and animal food preparation area.