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expert reaction to news that NERC will not merge BAS and NOC

NERC council announced that the proposed merger of the British Antarctic Survey and National Oceanography Centre will not go ahead and BAS and NOC will remain as NERC’s centres.


Prof John Shephard, University of Southampton and former Director of the Southampton Oceanography Centre, said:

“I am very pleased to hear that NERC Council has decided against the proposed merger, as the reasons given for it were not convincing. NERC now needs to act swiftly to repair the damage it has done, rebuild the morale of BAS staff, and replace the senior staff already lost, as soon as possible.”


Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science, said:

“The Government and the NERC should be congratulated for listening to the scientific community and removing the threat to the British Antarctic Survey. The UK’s world-class science base is being hit hard by the cuts to funding resulting from the Comprehensive Spending Review, and the Survey was set to become one of the most high-profile casualties. The Survey’s scientific research is vitally important in finding out how climate change is affecting the huge Antarctic ice sheets which could raise global sea levels by several metres if they melt and become destabilised. However, it is disappointing that the Government has committed only to protecting funding for the Survey instead of reversing the cuts to the NERC’s budget which will now threaten other important areas of research.”


Dr John Dudeney, former Deputy Director of BAS,  said:

“I am delighted that the merger will not now proceed.  However, the devil will be in the detail – the detail which is not included.  I have in mind here whether NERC will now move swiftly to make new permanent appointments of a Director and Deputy Director of BAS;  whether the BAS fleet will remain under the control of BAS and not be merged with the NOC fleet, and whether BAS will continue to be an integrated operation carrying out a substantial research programme as well a providing the presence in Antarctica, policy advice to Government, and wide ranging scientific collaboration.  It was of course perfectly proper for NERC to explore various options for the management of its institutes, but I think they do need to reflect on how they went about the process in this case.”


Prof Mark Maslin, University College London, said:

“It is reassuring that an institution such as NERC is strong and confident enough to have taken the expert views of their members and made the right choice despite it being opposite to their original proposal. Now if only the rest of Government would follow suite enact evidence based policy.”


NERC statement:

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