Philip Dunne MP, the Minister for Defence Procurement, paid tribute to vital work done by staff at Dstl Porton Down during an event to mark the centenary of defence operations in Wiltshire.
The Minister presented scientists with certificates of achievement in recognition of their work on inventions that have gone on to be used for defence and wider civilian benefit through licensing arrangements and spin-out companies established by Dstl’s technology transfer company, Ploughshare Innovations Ltd.
During the height of the First World War the government bought 3,000 acres of land near Porton in response to chemical weapons being used in the trenches.
Minister Philip Dunne toured the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) site to see the work being done to combat the threat of chemical weapons in the 21st century.
Dstl now owns 7,000 acres of land at Porton, which includes chemical detection, forensic analysis and developing protective clothing for the Armed Forces.
Mr Dunne said:
“Over the past century, the UK, our Armed Forces personnel and our citizens have all been made safer by the work conducted at Porton Down.
“With the recent announcement that Dstl will remain an important Executive Agency of the Ministry of Defence, Dstl is well placed to carry on this life-saving work for many more years to come, providing support to operations, ground-breaking research and expert advice for the defence and security of the UK.
“I am delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate this centenary and to thank the current generation of scientists and others who work within Dstl for the vital work they do.”
Porton Down continues to be a leading player in the development of military respirators.
These are used by the armed forces offering a high level of protection against chemical, biological and radiological warfare. In 2015, a new respirator facility was opened at Dstl.
Dstl Chief Executive, Jonathan Lyle said the organisation has had to adapt over the past 100 years.
“Chemical and biological defence research is what Dstl, Porton Down is best known for,” he said. “But the breadth of work we now undertake at Porton Down has grown across the decades as the site has developed.
“We were first established to counter the emerging threat of gas attack in World War One. Today we exist to protect our Armed Forces and British citizens against a wide range of current and future threats, for example cyber.”