Planning a new era of Antarctic endeavour

28 November 2020

The Morrison Government has committed $450 million to a new era of Antarctic engagement and has today announced a key step in the delivery of sustainable, world-class facilities for future Australian Antarctic activities. 

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) has announced the development of a new master planning process to modernise our southernmost research facility, Davis station.

Established in 1957 Davis research station is one of three Australian Antarctic stations and an important site for scientists undertaking atmospheric, ice sheet and marine ecosystem research.  

One of the world’s most experienced Antarctic architects Hugh Broughton is developing the plan with WSP consultants to ensure that Australia can maintain its place as a world leader in Antarctic science. 

Davis will be the first of a network-wide series of upgrades across Australia’s Antarctic stations and their supporting infrastructure.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the Government is committed to providing the facilities and logistics that will enable Antarctic scientists to focus on answering critical questions of global significance for decades to come. 

“As part of a master planning process, the AAD is engaging with Australia’s Antarctic community to understand the challenges of living and working in a remote Antarctic environment,” Minister Ley said. 

“We want to build a sustainable and resilient station that has flexibility to support future science and emerging technologies.”
The master plan has adopted six primary objectives aimed to address the challenges of living and working in Antarctica, a commitment to:

•    Enhance health, safety and wellbeing by providing a station with open plan and well-lit interiors to support a strong sense of community. 
•    Support and facilitate world-leading science with a wide range of flexible lab spaces. 
•    Represent Australia in Antarctica by promoting the principles of international cooperation with Treaty nations, while drawing on Australia’s history in Antarctica.  
•    Lead environmental protection by protecting Antarctica’s unique ecology and minimising pollution, waste and other human impacts.  
•    Improve ecological footprint by using sustainable materials and operational practices. 
•    Provide future flexibility through a modular design that allows facilities to be easily changed. 

Minister Ley said upgrading Australia’s research stations demonstrates the Government’s ongoing commitment to the icy continent, and cementing Hobart’s status as an Antarctic Gateway. 

“The Government is delivering a new era of Australian Antarctic endeavour as demonstrated by our recent investments in the order of $2.8 billion.” 

These include:

•    $1.9 billion to build and operate the new Antarctic icebreaker RSV Nuyina, significantly enhancing our scientific operations. 
•    $450 million over the next ten years to upgrade Australia’s Antarctic research stations and supporting infrastructure.
•    $77 million to investigate, design and undertake environmental assessments for a year-round aerodrome near Davis research station.
•    $50 million for a rebuild of Macquarie Island research station. 
•    $45 million to develop overland traverse capabilities to support the search for a million year ice core. 

A similar master planning approach will be used at Casey and Mawson research stations and Wilkins Aerodrome.  
A final decision on the requirements and schedule of a modernised Davis station depends on the approval of plans for a year-round aviation facility near Davis research station. 

The proposed Davis aerodrome is in a detailed planning phase and has commenced environmental assessment under national and international Antarctic Treaty processes which includes public consultation.  

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