THE first sod has been cut at the site of South West College’s new £29 million campus in Enniskillen.

Known as the Erne Campus, it will be situated on the site of the former Erne hospital and is being developed by Fermanagh contractors, Tracey Brothers Ltd.

As work on the 8,200 square metre building begins, it is estimated that it will provide employment for over 200 people in the local construction industry, including a number of apprenticeship opportunities. It is understood that it will also be the first educational building worldwide to achieve the highest international standard in environmental construction. The College hopes that the state-of-the-art building, due to be completed in early 2020, will further enhance it’s existing reputation in the sustainable construction sector and will be used to attract international companies and students in this field.

Noel Lavery, Permanent Secretary of the Department for the Economy, attended the sod-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, describing it as a “significant milestone”.

Mr. Lavery said: “This exciting project will deliver first class facilities and accommodation for students and staff at South West College, while enhancing the education, skills and employability of our young people.

“The construction of the new campus will also strengthen South West College’s curriculum delivery, enhancing its existing PassivHaus offering and establishing the College internationally as one of the foremost deliverers of sustainable construction training.”

Michael McAlister, Chief Executive of South West College, said: “We are on the cusp of an exciting new era, with the cutting of the first sod at the Erne Campus, which will see the construction excellence of Tracey Brothers, the financial commitment of the Department for the Economy and the vision and aspiration of South West College brought together for the economic, social and educational benefit of the south west region.”

John Tracey, director of Tracey Brothers Ltd., spoke of the significance of this first phase of development.

“It is great to see the sod being cut on this important site within Enniskillen. Tracey Brothers are looking forward to working closely with the College on this landmark education development and delivering another high-quality design and build project, as well as providing much-needed stimulus for the local construction industry and wider local economy.”