Aquatera's Gareth Davies meets with Prime Minister Boris Johnson

August 4th 2020

Aquatera MD Gareth Davies was a member of a team that last week met with the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnston and Scottish Secretary Alistair Jack to discuss the sustainability challenges and opportunities facing the community in Orkney.  The meeting, set-up by Orkney Islands Council, was aimed at exploring how Orkney could be recognised as an ‘Innovation Freeport’. 

Over the last few months Gareth and other community colleagues in Orkney has been considering how the islands can best face up to the twin challenges of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. They have also been considering any such solutions might help other parts of Scotland, the UK and the wider world. 

This endeavour builds upon the expansive work of Gareth, the wider Aquatera team and collaborating delivery partners over the last 20 years. 

In particular the dual crises of climate change and COVID-19 have shone a strong light upon many of the progressive projects and initiatives in which Aquatera is involved.  This includes the ground-breaking ReFLEX integrated energy systems project, various onshore & offshore wind, floating solar, tidal, wave and hydrogen energy activities as well as wider environmental, community development and blue economy initiatives.

Perhaps due to the relevance and importance of these topics at this time breadth and scale of Aquatera’s work is growing significantly and the team are now actively engaged in 20 countries around the world, intriguingly across all seven global continents.

Innovation lies at the heart of Aquatera’s work whether as a consultant, as a researcher or as a proactive project or technology developer allowing the team to seek out and deliver a wide range of optimised solutions. 

Creating the right environment for innovation to take place was major focus of the discussions with the Prime Minister. 

Working with Orkney Islands Council and Neil Kermode of EMEC, Gareth and the Aquatera team have been working up the concept for Orkney to be designated as an Innovation Freeport.  It is envisaged that this would involve being recognised as a centre of excellence, mandated to lead in key areas innovation, and given the regulatory and fiscal flexibility to explore new technical and structural solutions.

Commenting on the Innovation Freeport concept Gareth stated: “with the challenges that we face today it is essential that we have the right enabling context for innovation to flourish and thrive.  The Innovation Freeport concept can help the whole local community and collaborating partners play a role in shaping a new and better future.  We know that the status quo is not good enough and that we must do better if we are to create hope for this and for future generations.  

It is hoped that this concept can underpin a further expansion of Orkney’s success as a leading global Living Laboratory, working in that timeless Orkney Way – working together, creating the future, learning from the past.