Outcome of NERC Council meeting to consider proposal to merge BAS and NOC
2 November 2012
The following written ministerial statement was laid in the House of Commons on 2 November 2012 by the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities & Science.
This statement reflects the conclusion of the NERC Council meeting held on 1 November 2012. In light of the Minister's statement in respect of a discrete funding line for Antarctic infrastructure and logistics, NERC will be considering ways forward.
Minister's written statement:
"The Council of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) met on 1 November to discuss the proposed merger of the British Antarctic Survey and the National Oceanography Centre. NERC Council considered the responses to its public consultation as well as feedback from Parliament; Government; the polar affairs community; scientists; and NERC staff.
NERC's handling of the responses was subject to external independent scrutiny by Professor Robert Allison, Vice Chancellor and President of Loughborough University.
The British Antarctic Survey is a national and international asset that delivers world-class environmental science, and this country's strategic presence in Antarctica and the South Atlantic. The UK's commitment to continuing this dual mission in the region is as strong as ever.
NERC has already committed to maintain the funding of the British Antarctic Survey at £42m a year for the rest of this spending review period.
Looking to the future - though without pre-empting the timing and size of the next spending review settlement - I consider that NERC should have a discrete funding line for Antarctic infrastructure and logistics from within the ring-fenced science budget to ensure a visible UK commitment to maintaining Antarctic science and presence.
Having completed its consultation, NERC Council agreed that it will not proceed with the proposal for merger. The British Antarctic Survey and National Oceanography Centre will remain as NERC's centres."