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QinetiQ and the Ministry of Defence have been recognised in the Sanctuary Awards for the four-year-long upgrading of their facilities on St Kilda.

The awards are granted for outstanding conservation and sustainability efforts in the MoD estate. The awards celebrate group and individual efforts that benefit sustainable development, environmental and heritage conservation, resource-saving measures, sustainable construction and community awareness on land that the MoD owns or uses in the UK and overseas.

Since 2018, QinetiQ and the MoD have been engaged in a four-year project in partnership with the National Trust for Scotland to upgrade the accommodation buildings, heating and water systems and the technical trials instrumentation and telemetry.

Alan MacSween, Head of Hebrides Site for QinetiQ, said: “We are delighted that not only has the project been a success but that it’s also been recognised by The Sanctuary Awards. It was a challenge, but reducing the energy consumption, noise and light pollution and giving more of the island over to nature has been a real achievement.”

Working with the MoD and the National Trust for Scotland, QinetiQ implemented Environmental Management and Biosecurity Plans to ensure the unique and special environment of St Kilda was protected, including hiring a full-time environmental manager and on-site archaeologist.

Working in a remote UNESCO World Heritage site was challenging, with every facet of the project being carefully considered to ensure that the environment on St Kilda was conserved.

All the equipment, materials and workers had to be transported by sea or air during a very tight annual weather window. Six and a half thousand tonnes of waste and non-indigenous building materials were shipped off the island. And robust controls were implemented to ensure that non-native species, including rodents, did not make landfall.

The project was completed in 2021

Susan Bain, Western Isles Manager, National Trust for Scotland, said: “It is good news that the project has been recognised by the Sanctuary Awards.

“The new buildings are sustainable, with a design that is sympathetic to the surroundings, reduces the size of the site overall, helps to restore historic views and fits well with the Trust’s own sustainability and conservation objectives, including the objective to enable nature to flourish in the very special places we care for.”