The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, minister of state for universities and science has laid down a written ministerial statement in the House of Commons rejecting the merger between the British Antarctic Survey and National Oceanography Centre.
This statement reflects the conclusion of a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) meeting held on 1 November 2012. NERC states that in light of the Minister’s statement they will be considering ways forward.
The statement said, “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.” The statement goes on to say 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.”
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.
The Council considered responses to its public consultation as well as feedback from Parliament; Government; the polar affairs community; scientists; and NERC staff. The responses were subject to external independent scrutiny by Professor Robert Allison, Vice Chancellor and President of Loughborough University.
The British Antarctic Survey is an international asset delivering world-class environmental science. This follows news that cutbacks to the budget were to be scrapped and we are genuinely delighted by this decision.