THE closure of the National Diving and Activity Centre at Tidenham Quarry last year was followed by the intriguing news it was set to become an innovative research facility for deep sea exploration technologies.

Its development since the submission of a planning application last April has been kept under wraps, but all was revealed at a press conference last week.

Gloucestershire Director of Business West and long-serving newspaper man Ian Mean was in attendance, and he gave us his thoughts on what is an amazing, but perhaps difficult to fully understand, futuristic new business here in the Forest of Dean.

IT is not often that I am gobsmacked by company announcements in Gloucestershire but yesterday it happened, Ian writes.

I was at what people probably know as the old Dayhouse Quarry at Tidenham in the Forest of Dean.

This is the site of the former National Dive & Activity Centre-a very deep water quarry and a place where the SAS often trained.

The site is now known as the DEEP, and its development has been ultra secretive.

But yesterday, after months of that secrecy, the wraps came off and we found out that something like £100 million has been invested in this project so far centred on the deep water quarry with depths of up to 80 metres.

And in answer to my question, I was told by Mike Shackleford, the President of Global Services of DEEP that there will probably be a hundred local jobs available when it gets going.

This is an amazing project which has been under wraps and it still quite difficult to understand fully.

Essentially, the quarry will become a campus for the ocean.

It will be the home of some pretty amazing research and experimentation of living under water for long periods, climate change, under water exploration and diving.

So, where has the enormous funding come from?

No answer to that directly except that we know there is venture capital money there and a man - presumably American, with deep pockets - who is fascinated by the oceans and the challenges and opportunities they represent worldwide.

When I read’s press release, it is quite extraordinary.

It has a feel of Elon Musk type thinking and I asked myself: Is this really believeable out here in the Gloucestershire countryside just a few miles from Chepstow at Tidenham?

One of the headlines in the DEEP press release says: Enabling a permanent human presence under the oceans from 2027.

And the list of DEEP’s development has some extraordinary goals like:

Sub sea stations to enable researchers to operate continually down to 200 metres

A new range of submersibles to cover the full range of ocean depths

Technical, human performance and operational training programmes to enable scientists to live and work at depth

New and innovative manufacturing processes of high value marine engineering and materials science

What does all that mean?

I am not a scientist or an oceans expert but it seems to me to be all about working and living under the oceans and supplying world leading expertise in research, aqua developments and engineering.

Mike Shackleford says: ”We have made significant developments in advanced manufacturing processes, and will build one of the world’s leading fabrication facilities with innovative production methods which will reduce waste, enhance energy efficiency, offer bespoke design and shorten manufacturing timelines.

“DEEP’s facilities already house our prototyping and pre-production capabilities as well as advanced material testing infrastructure not found elsewhere in the UK, and this is just the beginning”.

I believe this is an amazing project which absolutely falls into the government’s Levelling Up agenda.

DEEP will undoubtedly provide great jobs for our young people in the future and encourage specialist skills.

The team behind DEEP scoured the world for a deep water site before on this Gloucestershire quarry.

We should be proud of that and encourage them.

DEEP’s website is now live, find out more at