Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Natural Environment Research Council (G17)

  1.  The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) welcomes the opportunity to respond to this inquiry.

  2.  NERC is one of the UK's seven Research Councils. It funds and carries out impartial scientific research in the sciences of the environment. NERC trains the next generation of independent scientists. Its priority research areas are: Earth's life-support systems, climate change, and sustainable economies. Details are provided in NERC's new five year strategy, Science for a sustainable future (

  3.  NERC supports scientists at universities and through its own research centres and collaborative centres. NERC's research centres are: the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the British Geological Survey (BGS), the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (POL). A list of NERC's collaborative centres is appended.

  4.  NERC's comments draw on inputs from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Southampton Oceanography Centre and NERC Swindon Office.


  5.  NERC and DEFRA already enjoy a successful working partnership with interactions at both strategic and operational levels. NERC would encourage DEFRA to build on such partnerships to develop a more strategic, "joined-up" approach towards common sustainable development goals.

  6.  The opportunity for longer-term partnership commitments between DEFRA and NERC has arisen as certain DEFRA science requirements match NERC's strategic priorities and expertise. These longer-term partnership commitments should be considered as this will help ensure the highest quality policy driven science is funded and provided in key strategic areas eg climate change, rural land use, sustainable agriculture and sustainable energy. For example, DEFRA and the NERC community already enjoy good partnership links in climate change due to interactions between the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and the Hadley Centre (funded by the Global Atmospheric Division at DEFRA). NERC and DEFRA could further develop climate change partnership links by enhancing interaction between NERC Centres for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the Hadley Centre.

  7.  In view of DEFRA's continued commitment to flood and coastal defence and its underpinning R&D, there is a significant opportunity for DEFRA to bring climate change work (via the Global Atmospheric Division) closer to flood work (via the Flood Management Division) to address questions such as "what are the impacts of climate change on flooding in the UK?"

  8.  DEFRA and NERC should continue to undertake reciprocal discussions and inputs into science strategy and priority development via fora such as the Environment Research Funders' Forum, which NERC is establishing, and their respective science policy and funding boards.

May 2002

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