Published: 09:13, 15 September 2021
| Updated: 09:14, 15 September 2021
MP Tom Tugendhat says he is "immensely proud" of progress on a £30million state-of-the-art horticultural science facility being built in the county.
The Tonbridge and Malling politician made the comments as he toured construction of research glasshouses and plant growth facilities at NIAB EMR - previously known as East Malling Research.
He was joined by Cllr Matt Boughton, leader of the local council.
The new facilities, home to Growing Kent & Medway, a partnership of leading businesses and the region’s universities to help promote the sector’s economic growth, are being funded through £18m secured from the government’s Strength in Places Fund, with a significant matching contribution from the East Malling Trust.
The trust raised the funds through the sale of part of its 500-acre estate for housing.
The new facilities include a research winery which has been funded by a further £600,000 loan from the Growing Places Fund.
The MP said: "I am immensely proud of the work being done by NIAB EMR, and was excited to see the progress here in East Malling.
“Thanks to a century of research, Malling is a name synonymous with fruit growing around the world. The new facilities will ensure a positive future for the science being undertaken here in Kent and support fruit growers and horticulturalists in the UK and abroad. The research undertaken here will improve the industry’s productivity and mitigate the challenges presented by climate change, to help get more locally-produced fruit into our diets.”
Research in the glasshouses will focus on developing new varieties and improving plant health and resistance to disease by undertaking controlled trials in crop production, breeding pathology, entomology and plant health.
The work is the first phase of the Green Tech Hub for Advanced Horticulture.
The second phase of the scheme, which is still to be funded, will deliver state-of-the-art laboratories including new science buildings, energy facilities and other science-related infrastructure.
Professor Mario Caccamo, managing director of NIAB EMR, added: “We are all about sustaining science through partnership, and in our case, this is achieved by working hand-in-glove with industry, academic institutions, and in particular the horticultural research charity East Malling Trust.”