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 (http://www.nerc.ac.uk/publications/strategicplan/).
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
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.