£100m invested in Forest of Dean quarry to find out how humans can live underwater

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Work has started to transform a quarry in the Forest of Dean into a research centre to trial humans living underwater. 

Exploration company DEEP is investing £100 million into the former deep diving centre in Tidenham.

It aims to have a permanent human presence under our oceans in the next four years.

DEEP President Steve Etherton said  "It's not actually about just living underwater, it's about the reasons for being there to do the science and understand the environment. 

"Part of the human spirit is exploration and on very practical grounds we believe in exploration of space - but if you look at the arguments for exploring the oceans better they are even stronger.

"If we talk about the role of the oceans in understanding climate change and climate resilience - there are thousands of questions we just are not able to answer at the moment."

The technology being tested at the site will allow scientists to live in oceans for extended periods of time below 650ft.

In the next two years DEEP wants to trialling humans living 80 metres under the surface of the quarry - which will then be repeated in more challenging conditions on the ocean bed.

It's hoped this will lead to new insights into rare species, climate change and medicines.

Cllr Jonathan Lane said: "It sounded like something that would be from a James Bond movie. I used to come here when it was an activity centre but never did I think it would have the potential for it to become a world renowned research centre.

"It's such an asset for this area and it will be so inspiring for young people growing up nearby. We're hoping that future generations of children will one day become research scientists."

The quarry is now being converted into a research centre with accommodation and offices.

Specialist submarines are already on the water along with several pontoons.

The investment will create 100 jobs on site but councillors believe the wider economy in the Forest of Dean will benefit too.