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The Science Museum National Collections Centre Wroughton

Planning decision puts Swindon at heart of ‘circular economy’

A planning decision has put Swindon and Wiltshire at the heart of the circular economy.

Hangars at Wroughton Airfield will be a new centre of sustainable technologies after Swindon Councillors gave plans the green light.

The hangars, on a 545-acre site at the south-western edge of the airfield, are owned by the Science Museum and used for storage as the National Collections Centre.

The Science Museum Group, along with the universities of Bath and Oxford and Swindon company Recycling Technologies, intends to use the buildings for research into developing ways of recycling more substances in everyday use.

The facility would be known as The Innovation Campus for the Circular Economy, or ICCE.

“The circular economy is central to the change of use proposal,” the consortium told planners.

“It encourages a shift from today’s linear ‘take, make, dispose’ economic model, towards one where materials and products circulate in the economy for as long as possible.

“At its core, the circular economy aims to design-out waste through reuse, repair, remanufacture, and recycling.

“Central to low-carbon growth, it presents a series of business opportunities in which new circular economy activities can drive revenue and reduce production costs.”

It said the plan “will put Swindon and Wiltshire at the heart of applied Circular Economy research and drive innovation to create new products, processes and solutions for this growing global market.”

The campus will evolve in two stages: Phase 1 would see 10 core staff and 20 to 30 PhD and postdoctoral researchers based at the site over three years.

Phase 2 would look at rapid expansion and would focus on applied research, innovation and an incubation facility.

The planning decision follows the news that a Creative Hub for The Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies (iCAST) – which is also led by the Universities of Bath and Oxford and backed by Recycling Technologies – would be opening at Swindon’s tech-focussed Great Western Railway Carriage Works buildings.

Image: The Science Museum National Collections Centre Wroughton by Victuallers, published under Creative Commons licence