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Urgency grants

NERC urgency grants allow scientists to respond rapidly to unexpected and transient events affecting the environment, for example the 2010 Amazon drought or the eruption at Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano in the same year.

NERC is no longer seeking applications to its urgency grant scheme on topics related to recent flooding events in the UK. NERC has responded rapidly, attending to and fully aware of the national need.

We have made this unprecedented decision because in the current proposal decision year (ends 31 March 2016) we have received a larger number of outline proposals than we would normally get on one topic. So far this winter we have had 15 outline proposals submitted, eight of which are going or have gone through to the peer review stage. Therefore NERC announces, with immediate effect, that there is no need to invite further proposals under this heading.

The projects we have funded to date will help address a national need to respond rapidly and research the various effects of this winter's flooding events.

Projects funded so far include one at the University of Liverpool to study lake sedimentary records to see if they provide an insight into how extreme the recent floods were in northern England, and another at the University of Newcastle to study the effects of landslides on a route in Scotland.

Application process

Submission of an urgency grant proposal is only permitted if relying on published funding opportunities would clearly result in a missed opportunity to undertake environmental research of high scientific importance. Urgency proposals must fall within the NERC scientific remit.

Prospective applicants must first contact the appropriate science programme officer for approval before submitting a proposal for consideration under the urgency scheme.

Up to two sides of A4 outlining the proposed work and the reasons for the urgency must be sent to the science programmes officer no later than four weeks from the first occurrence of the scientific opportunity. Science programmes officer contact details can be found at the bottom of this page.

The following situations will not be accepted as grounds for an urgency proposal:

  • Time-limited logistical events, such as an unforeseen opportunity to participate in a particular experimental or observational programme or the unexpected availability of staff or facilities.
  • Opportunities created by deliberate direct human actions or decisions.
  • Events where planning could have allowed support for study via published funding opportunities, such as seasonal, relatively frequent, or periodic natural events.
  • Events that are expected to be imminent but have not yet occurred, such as forecast extreme weather conditions or volcanic eruptions. Urgency grant funding cannot be used to undertake operational monitoring for the purpose of forecasting the occurrence of hazardous natural events.
  • Responding to unexpected research findings.
  • Continuation of monitoring or other existing projects for any reason.
  • Collection of data to inform urgent policy or national/international decision-making.

NERC reserves the right to limit the number of urgency proposals considered or supported relating to the same event or location. NERC will not accept more than one urgency proposal from an individual investigator in a two-year period.

Following approval, urgency proposals must be submitted to NERC via the Je-S system within ten working days. Please select Document Type 'Standard Proposal', Scheme 'Standard Grants' and Call 'Urgent Grant'.

Full details of the application procedure for urgency proposals are in Section F of the research grants and fellowships handbook.

The maximum funding that may be sought for an Urgency proposal is £65,000; this limit applies to the total (100%) full economic cost of the project, of which NERC will fund 80%.

Urgency proposals can last up to a year and are expected to focus on the urgent data collection and essential initial analysis only. A clear strategy is required for taking the research forward once the urgent phase is completed. Note that no studentships or equipment can be funded via this scheme.

Urgency proposals are assessed using the same criteria as other discovery science schemes. Urgency proposals are first assessed by external peer reviewers. Once reviews have been received, a member of the NERC Peer Review College moderates the comments and makes a recommendation. The reviewing and moderation process should be completed within one month from submission of the proposal.

Contacts

Science programme officer contacts