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Marine consultancy hopes to create science hub in Hoveton if expansion plans are approved

PUBLISHED: 12:10 18 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:14 18 December 2017

A CGI image of a proposed development from Hoveton-based marine consultancy Benthic Solutions. Picture: FW Properties/Plainspeaking PR

A CGI image of a proposed development from Hoveton-based marine consultancy Benthic Solutions. Picture: FW Properties/Plainspeaking PR

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A marine environmental consultancy claims it could offer a boost to the East coast’s reputation as a hub for marine sciences if its expansion plans are given the green light.

Drone imagery from a fish farm survey in Scotland managed by Hoveton-based marine consultancy Benthic Solutions. Picture: Benthic Solutions Drone imagery from a fish farm survey in Scotland managed by Hoveton-based marine consultancy Benthic Solutions. Picture: Benthic Solutions

Hoveton firm Benthic Solutions will present its case to councillors on Wednesday for the construction of new premises in the town, which would give it much-needed space to grow and could enable the creation of 45 jobs.

The firm says it has “high hopes” of bringing more businesses and education providers onto the site in Church Field to create a centre of excellence for marine sciences.

But it suffered a setback in September after the application, which is contingent on the construction of 25 new homes, was rejected by North Norfolk district councillors due to the site’s location outside the town’s development area.

Founded in 2004, Benthic Solutions offers survey, analysis, interpretation and project management services for the marine sector and has worked around the world from Bulgaria to Columbia.

Hoveton-based marine consultancy Benthic Solutions deploys a deep water camera in the Falkland Islands. Picture: Benthic Solutions Hoveton-based marine consultancy Benthic Solutions deploys a deep water camera in the Falkland Islands. Picture: Benthic Solutions

It has been an innovator in subsea camera systems and equipment for deep water projects, and still invests £300,000 a year in research and development.

Director Ian Wilson, who set up the environmental arm of EDP/EADT Top100 company Gardline before founding Benthic, said the firm was “well placed” to take advantage of an uptick in survey activity prompted by a recent revival in offshore activities.

Turnover has grown from £1.67m in 2015 to a projected £2.5m in 2017, with new business enquiries doubling in the last 12 months and 45 projects completed this year to date.

Mr Wilson said: “The marine survey industry has been very difficult over the past few years, but we have managed to maintain a strong presence in our sector through adaptation and investment.”

The application for four new buildings close to its current site in Marsh Road would allow Benthic to put down “permanent roots” in the community and to increase its 12-strong workforce three-fold, Mr Wilson said.

If the plans go ahead Benthic plans to expand its work experience programme, which welcomes students and graduates from nearby colleges, and launch a new apprenticeship programme in 2018.

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