Submission from the Office of Science
This memorandum outlines OSI's interests in
relation to marine science and technology. Funding is provided
for marine science via the Research Councils, in the same manner
as for other research areas. There has been some specific OSI
involvement over the last 15 years. There was a Marine Panel in
the first Foresight round; more recently, marine science made
an important contribution to the Foresight project on Flooding
and Coastal Defence; and, until 2003, the Office of Science and
Technology (OST) chaired the Inter-Agency Committee on Marine
Science and Technology (IACMST). These issues are addressed in
response to the specific questions raised by the Select Committee
1. THE ROLE
OSI IN RELATION
Marine science and technology responsibilities
are distributed widely across Government departments, agencies
and Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs). In the past, this
meant that there was no single, obvious policy lead on marine
science issues. The Inter-Agency Committee on Marine Science and
Technology (IACMST) was therefore set up to maintain an overview
of national and international activities in marine science and
technology activities and encourage the optimum use of major UK
facilities for this area of science. Because of the then lack
of a clear lead department, OST originally chaired this committee.
In 2003, the decision was taken to transfer the committee to the
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), whose
formation in 2001 had created a focus for marine policy and science
OSI maintains a broad interest in science within
and across Government as an input to evidence-based policy making.
OSI has continued its formal membership of IACMST but has not
played an active role in it.
The seven Research Councils are the main public
investors of research in the UK universities and RC institutes.
They are funded by the Science Budget through the Department of
Trade and Industry (DTI)/OSI. There is a good and long-standing
principle that Government does not prescribe to individual Research
Councils the details of how they should allocate resources between
competing priorities. It is the responsibility of each of the
Councils to decide what science it should fund and where, in order
to deliver its Charter objectives and its mission. At a strategic
level, OSI agrees the Delivery Plans prepared by each Council
setting out their priorities and deliverables for the Spending
Review period. OSI is not resourced to retain expertise in each
research sector or discipline. This is the responsibility of the
relevant Research Council(s).
Three Councils (NERC, EPSRC and BBSRC) fund
research relating to marine science, details of which were provided
in their individual memoranda to the Committee. NERC's Delivery
Plan for the period 2005-08 included the renewal of funding for
marine research which resulted in the Oceans 2025 Programme.
2. SUPPORT AVAILABLE
OSI EITHER EXCLUSIVE
In addition to the individual funding allocations
made to each of the Research Councils following Spending Review
2004, during which some Councils made commitments in areas relevant
to marine science, the DTI/OSI Large Facilities Capital Fund (LFCF)
provided £25 million of funding to NERC to assist with the
purchase of the RRS James Cook. This new oceanographic research
ship was delivered to NERC in August 2006. The provision of LFCF
funding followed prioritisation by RCUK of the projects listed
in their Large Facilities `Roadmap'. The remainder of the project
cost was met by NERC.
LFCF funding of £38.5 million has also
been earmarked for a replacement for the RRS Discovery, which
is expected to be ready for service in around 2011/12.
3. COVERAGE OF
Foresight was established in 1994 in response
the Government's 1993 Science and Technology White Paper "Realising
Our Potential". At that time the Foresight Programme was
formed of sixteen sector-based Panels, one of which was the Marine
Panel. The Marine Panel published its findings in 1997, together
with a report by a working group on Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture.
The next Foresight round started in 1999 and
had only eleven sector-based panels, none of which specifically
addressed marine issues. However, the Marine Panel had found its
work sufficiently successful and thought-provoking that it decided
to continue its work in a private capacity. In support of this
Foresight provided the Panel with funding of £20k a year
for two years.
In 2000 Lord Sainsbury (the then science and
innovation Minister) announced a review of the Foresight Programme
aimed at building on the successes of the first two rounds, and
ensuring that the programme was fully able to exploit the challenges
of the future. The key findings of the review were that the programme
needed to refocus on science and technology; be more flexible
to take account of emerging developments; and to focus resources
more clearly on where they would best add value. As a result,
the programme moved away from a structure of standing panels,
covering broad sectors, to one that would allow new issues to
be targeted and picked up quickly. The new rolling programme of
projects was established in April 2002.
Foresight's move to project-based activities
meant that it was unable to continue funding the Marine Panel,
as the Panel's work no longer aligned with Foresight policy and
its new objectives.
That said, the marine environment is fundamental
to the issue of coastal flooding, and formed an integral part
of a Foresight project on Flooding and Coastal Defence. The project
delivered a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the drivers
of coastal flood risk over the next 30 to 80 years in four socioeconomic-
and CO2 emission-based scenarios. This included an analysis of
coastal processes and the impacts of climate change on, for example,
the frequency and intensity of marine storms and their associated
surges and wave action and sea-level rise. The project also assessed
the efficacy and sustainability of a number of responses, such
as managed realignment of coastal defences and structurally engineered
solutions. It reported its findings in April 2004.
4. ANY OTHER
OSI INTO ISSUES
OSI has not itself undertaken any recent work
or research into issues related to marine science and technology.
Rather, its role is to provide funding via the Research Councils,
who support research relating to marine science.
5. THE RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN OSI AND
THE IACMST, AND
BETWEEN OSI AND
TO NERC AND
The relationship between OSI and IACMST
Since 2003, Defra has had lead responsibility
for IACMST. The Committee is currently chaired by Defra's Chief
Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir Howard Dalton, but in an independent
capacity. OSI, which formerly had the lead, has retained formal
membership of the IACMST.
The change in leadership came about following
the creation of Defra, which provided a focus for marine policy
and science in Whitehall that had not existed previously. Specifically,
marine science supports Defra's work on conservation, environmental
protection, fisheries and costal management objectives. (Other
departments which sit on IACMST, such as the Ministry of Defence
and the Department for Transport, have an interest in marine science,
but to a lesser extent than Defra.)
The British National Space Centre (BNSC) attends
IACMST by invitation when space-related issues are on the agenda.
For example, last year, BNSC provided an overview and update to
IACMST on the space component of the Global Monitoring for Environment
& Security (GMES) initiative.
The relationship between OSI and the Research
Councils involved in marine research
Each Research Council is a Non-Departmental
Public Body (NDPB) responsible to the Secretary of State (DTI)
and receives most of its funds by grant-in-aid approved by Parliament
as proposed by the OSI. The Secretary of State is accountable
to Parliament for the activities of each Council and determines
the broad policy framework within which they operate and the amount
of Parliamentary grant-in-aid. The Director General Science &
Innovation is responsible for supporting the Secretary of State
in securing the successful and high-quality operations of each
Council in pursuit of its Charter objects, and for advising the
Secretary of State and the DTI Accounting Officer in pursuance
of their responsibilities in respect of the Councils. Detailed
reporting, operations and accountability requirements for each
Council are set out in a `Management Statement and Financial
Memorandum' (which is agreed between OSI and the respective Council).
This provides the principal vehicle for setting out the accountability
requirements, and is supplemented by detailed guidance on objective
setting, planning and reporting, which is issued annually by OSI
to the Councils.
EPSRC and NERC collaborate closely on multidisciplinary
research in marine science where it crosses the remit of both
Research Councils, and there is a Concordat in place on responsive
mode funding to support research that crosses remits.
6. OSI'S VIEWS
IACMST maintains an overview of national and
international activities in marine science and technology and
provides a mechanism for liaison between its members. If IACMST
members had doubts about the effectiveness of the body we would
expect them, or the IACMST Chair, to draw these to OSI's attention.
This has not so far occurred.
7. OSI'S ASSESSMENT
OSI does not perform detailed analyses by sector.
OSI monitors the levels of R&D more generally performed and
funded by the business, government, higher education and private
non-profit sectors, and departmental spends on R&D and science,
engineering and technology. Funding for the marine sector will
contribute to these totals.