NERC services and facilities commissioning

Commissioning updates

January 2018

The second round of NERC National Capability Commissioning is now open. For the Announcements of Opportunity and further call details please see the funding announcement page.

December 2017

In September 2017, NERC completed a review of its national capability services and facilities. Following this review, and consultation with the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and other delivery partners, NERC will no longer fund the NERC Facility for Scientific Diving (NFSD) after 31 March 2018.

Environmental researchers across the NERC portfolio will continue to access dive support via the grant process utilising existing UK and international suppliers. Current NERC grant holders with existing dive capability agreements through the NFSD should contact NERC to discuss future arrangements and the options available for them.

NERC will also be moving the Space Geodesy Facility (SGF) from the services and facilities (S&F) portfolio. SGF will be reclassified within the NERC national capability portfolio from spring 2018, and users should continue to liaise with the facility directly.

September 2017

NERC Council agreed to the transformation of the S&F portfolio to increase the effectiveness of its scientific services and facilities for the user community. NERC has now reviewed its S&F portfolio, drawing on advice from an independent strategic advisory group of expert users which was set up to assess future requirements for the S&F portfolio, evidence from the 2016 S&F evaluation and input from a community consultation. Plans for NERC support of each service and facility have been developed in order to maintain a world-class portfolio of S&F for the UK environmental science community. As a consequence, some S&F will remain essentially the same, others will change, and strategic opportunities for new NERC S&F will be explored.

The following S&F will retain their existing provision of service and capacity for their user communities going forwards. Users should continue to apply to the facility as per their current arrangements;

  • Atmospheric Measurement Facility (AMF)
  • Chilbolton Facility for Atmospheric & Radio Research (CFARR)
  • Mesosphere Stratosphere Troposphere Radar Facility (MSTRF)
  • European Incoherent Scatter Radar UK Support Facility (EISCAT)
  • Ion Microprobe Facility (IMF)
  • Geophysical Equipment Facility (GEF)
  • NERC Facility for Scientific Diving (NFSD)
  • Culture Collection of Algae & Protozoa (CCAP)

The following S&F have been identified to undergo changes to ensure the services provided continue to align with the needs of the user community. NERC will work to ensure continuity of service for all these S&F throughout the review process, during which users should continue to apply to the facility as per their current arrangements, until April 2019;

  • NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility (NBAF)
  • NERC Airborne Research Facility (NARF)
  • Field Spectroscopy Facility (FSF)
  • NERC Earth Observation Data Acquisition & Analysis Service (NEODAAS)
  • Space Geodesy Facility (SGF)
  • Argon Isotope Facility (AIF)
  • Cosmogenic Isotope Analysis Facility (CIAF)
  • Life Sciences Mass Spectrometry Facility (LSMSF)
  • NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory (NIGL)
  • NERC Radiocarbon Facility (NRCF)

From spring 2018, the following S&F will no longer be included in NERC's national capability S&F portfolio. National capability (NC) funding for these will be ramped down between 2018 and 2020 and arrangements will be made for existing grants to continue using these facilities so that there will be no break in service for its users. From this time therefore, users should continue to liaise with the facility directly;

  • Facility for Environmental Nanoparticle Analysis & Characterisation (FENAC)
  • Isotope Community Support Facility (ICSF)

The following facilities will be reclassified in within the NERC national capability portfolio from spring 2018 and users should continue to liaise with the facility directly;

  • NERC British Isles continuous GNSS Facility (BIGF)
  • British Ocean Sediment Core Research Facility (BOSCORF)
  • Scot-MRF
  • UK Arctic Station

NERC wishes to maintain its world-class portfolio of S&F with no gap in service and minimal disruption throughout this commissioning process for the UK environmental science community. Users are advised that all existing applications or active grants using S&F will continue to be honoured under existing S&F arrangements. For applications proposed to begin beyond the timescales listed above and for those S&F undergoing change or no longer supported by NERC NC funding, applicants should, in the first instance, be advised to speak with each service and facility.

Timetable for commissioning activities (PDF, 270KB)

Guidance for first phase of commissioning - April 2018

Specification guidance for services and facilities and large-scale research infrastructure invited to the first stage of commissioning by April 2018 can be found in the attachments below.

Large-scale research infrastructure commissioning (2018-2028): UK Arctic Research Station (PDF, 150KB)

NERC services and facilities commissioning (2018-2023) (PDF, 203KB)

For further information, please contact Simon Howe at .

February 2017

NERC would like to thank the community for their input and feedback with regards to the NERC services and facilities (S&F) consultation in September 2016. The consultation was held as part of a process to evaluate and transform the NERC services and facilities portfolio.

NERC's 2016-20 Delivery Plan sets out our ambition to increase the efficiency of scientific services, facilities and data centres by concentrating them in regional or national centres of excellence.

Following the consultation, NERC convened a services and facilities Allocation Advisory Group to look at the outcomes from the evaluation and consultation, as well as other evidence collected. The advice from the services and facilities Allocation Advisory Group is currently being processed and the implications of the recommendations are being investigated before decisions are made.

NERC Council will consider the evidence in spring 2017. Following this, we will provide more information about the plans and timelines for the future commissioning for NERC's S&F portfolio. All S&F have confirmed funding for the financial year 2017-18.

If you have any questions please contact Emma Payne, whose details are below.


NERC is introducing new ways of identifying and prioritising its services and facilities portfolio over the next five to ten years.

The approach for identifying services and facility priorities includes the bottom up generation of ideas or 'areas of strategic need'. An idea in this context should not be considered a proposal for funding; it is a suggestion for the continuation of, or a new, service or facility. It does not seek to understand local needs and provision, which could be funded through individual institutions or other routes. This consultation excludes NERC's provision of high performance computing, ships and the FAAM aircraft, which are being assessed separately. It also excludes the large facilities of which NERC is a stakeholder: Diamond, ISIS and Central Laser Facility (CLF).


The consultation has now closed. NERC would like to thank all those who took the time to submit responses for their valuable contribution to this exercise.

In September 2016 NERC invited the research community to provide evidence of future needs, including from our current portfolio below. Please note that this list was updated on the 7 September 2016 to provide greater clarity on current services and facilities included in this consultation.

NERC facilities portfolio (PDF, 62KB)

An allocation advisory group for services and facilities was established to help NERC process and prioritise ideas. When combined with other evidence it will inform our future commissioning of services and facilities.

Other evidence considered included:

  • alignment to NERC's strategy and goals
  • priorities identified in previous reviews, including the NERC capital consultation held in 2015, and the outcome of recent competitive calls focused on capital investments up to £500,000
  • the recent call for evidence to inform NERC's investment priorities for the next Comprehensive Spending Review, which identified emerging research and innovation opportunities.


For further information please contact:

Emma Payne
Programme Manager (National Capability Commissioning)
01793 411562


NERC is the UK's leading public funder of environmental science, investing in cutting-edge research, postgraduate training and innovation in universities and research centres. NERC also invests in strategic services and facilities to provide a well-founded research and innovation environment to support world-class environmental science, which seeks to address key environmental and societal challenges.

National capability services & facilities funding supports the UK environmental research community by providing specialist services, of which analytical facilities and pools of specialist equipment are examples, whose 'centralised' regional or national provision delivers a critical mass in operation, technical innovation and financial efficiency.

NERC expects the provision of services and facilities to be accessible to the entire UK research community, and to be open to supporting research from all NERC funding streams. NERC services and facilities may be used by industry partners, where appropriate, to generate additional external revenue, and provide a source of capability and expert advice to government and wider society.