HAMPSHIRE'S hi-tech re-search laboratory at Roke Manor has landed a coveted award for its hand-held detector which could revolutionise the arduous task of landmine clearance in former war zones.

Inventor Chris Richardson, principal consultant engineer, collected the Worldaware Award for Innovation from Commonwealth Secretary General Donald McKinnon and Trevor Baylis, inventor of the wind-up radio and a previous award-winner, at a ceremony held at the Royal institution in London.

The mine detector, developed entirely at Roke Manor, near Romsey, was selected for the award because of its potential to address humanitarian landmine issues in countries like Angola, Somalia and Cambodia.

It requires no batteries, is cheap to make and can be used with little training.

Said Mr Richardson: "We wanted to devise a cheap machine that could be issued to everyone in a village and I am convinced that this simple device, if mass-produced, could halve the rate of mine casualties.

"I'm delighted that the mine detector has been recognised by Worldaware for the benefit it can bring to developing countries.''

Worldaware, whose only patron is the Queen, is a non-profit organisation which aims to encourage UK organisations to play an expanding role in supporting economic and social progress in developing countries of the world.