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					NERC External Issues Bulletin No 10                                                                         Date: 27 March 2007

1. News from the public sector and policy world
Issue                                                    Description/ relevance                                                         Contact

Early Day Motion from Colin Challen                      Notes that the European Parliament Environment Committee has                   HC
UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions Target. 20 Feb               recommended an 80% cut for EU greenhouse gas emissions by      2050; further notes that a bill presented in the US Congress,
D=32637&SESSION=885                                      namely the Safe Climate Act, calls for emissions cuts of 80% by
                                                         2050; etc.
FCO conducts online survey into research                 The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Tokyo is sponsoring a                   SS
collaborations between academics in the UK and           study into research collaboration between academics in the UK
Japan. Feb- March                                        and Japan. The study aims to profile the nature and extent of                    research collaborations with Japan and to identify opportunities
                                                         to better support UK-Japan collaboration in the future.
Royal Society fears Research councils budget cuts will   The Royal Society has written to Alistair Darling, expressing concern          SS
make flexibility difficult. 6 Mar 2007                   at the recent announcement that the DTI is to make £68m of cuts
Letter to Secretary of State for Trade and Industry      to the budgets of the Research Councils, in order to cover deficits
regarding cuts to the Research Councils‟ budgets         elsewhere in the DTI's budget. It is concerned that these cuts
                                                         infringe the principle that Science Budget funds are strictly ring-
                                                         fenced within DTI. The cuts to the research councils‟ budgets
                                                         may lead councils to deploy their full budget early on and lose
                                                         the flexibility to respond to important issues as they arise
Three-quarters of science funding goes to England        Malcolm Wicks, the science minister, told the House of                         HC
7 March                                                  Commons that the UK‟s expenditure on science for 2005-06
http://www.parliament.the-stationery-                    was £2.95 billion, of which 74.1% was spent in England, 9.0%       in Scotland, 2.3% in Wales and 0.8% in Northern. He was
307w0004.htm - column_1996W                              responding to question asking what proportion of the science
                                                         budget was spent in Scotland, Wales, England and Northern
                                                         Ireland over the last five years.
NESTA launches social innovation initiative              The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts has                SS        launched a new £20 million initiative designed to promote social
                                                         innovation in tackling problems in health and the environment. The
                                                         Innovation Challenges will focus on several key themes, with each
                                                         theme lasting three years. The first cluster of Challenge projects,
                                                         will focus on innovation in health, and will be launched in March
                                                         2007. The second cluster of projects will focus on the
                                                         environment and climate change and will be launched later
                                                         in 2007. NESTA is now seeking partners to help deliver or co-fund
                                                         projects, which stimulate innovation.
Nesta invites applications for Crucible programme.       NESTA is inviting applications for the current round of its Crucible           SS
14 March.                                                programme, which aims to promote creative thinking in science by         bringing together early career scientists, engineers, technologists
Applications from 22 March until 30 April.               and researchers from a variety of backgrounds. Thirty awardees will                                get the opportunity to network with other young scientists by         participating in three weekend residential themed workshops.
Royal Society calls for applications for MP pairing      The Royal Society is now calling for applications for the 2007 round           SS
scheme. Closing date 5 April.                            of its MP-Scientist Pairing Scheme, in which MPs and scientists learn         about each other‟s objectives by spending time together in the
                                                         laboratory, the constituency and at Westminster.
CBI: UK needs to double science graduates. 12 March      At the start of National Science week the CBI warns that the                   SS     proportion of science and engineering graduates in the UK needs to
a8025671c00381cc7/3bc56e0329272eb48025729900305          double by 2014 if it is to retain skilled jobs and compete in the
f2f?OpenDocument                                         global economy.
David Miliband sets out draft Climate Change Bill and    The draft Climate Change Bill, and accompanying strategy, set out a            HC
strategy. 13 March                                       framework for moving the UK to a low-carbon economy. Key            points of the draft bill include: a series of clear targets for reducing
                                                         carbon dioxide emissions - including making the UK's targets for a
                                                         60 per cent reduction by 2050 and a 26 to 32 per cent reduction by
                                                         2020 legally binding; a new system of legally binding five year
                                                         “carbon budgets”; a new statutory body, the Committee on Climate
                                                         Change, to provide independent expert advice and guidance to
                                                         Government on achieving its targets; and new powers to enable the
                                                         Government to more easily implement policies to cut emissions.
                                                         (See also ‘Consultation’ section below)
New Institute of Zoology head appointed.                 The Zoological Society of London has appointed Tim Blackburn as head           SS
16 March                                                 of the Institute of Zoology, its scientific research division. Tim Blackburn    was previously Professor of Macroecology at the University of
HEFCE announces timeline for RAE successor. 6 March       HEFCE has announced more details of the successor to the 2008            SS        Research Assessment Exercise. In a letter to vice-chancellors dated
                                                          6 March, HEFCE says it plans to use two distinct processes for
                                                          assessing quality - one for science-based subjects and another for
                                                          all other subjects. For the science-based disciplines (science,
                                                          engineering, technology and medicine), HEFCE will use quantitative
                                                          indicators, including bibliometric indicators of research quality and
                                                          impact, external research income and postgraduate student activity.
                                                          The full set of indicators for the science-based disciplines will be
                                                          produced for the first time during 2009, and will begin to influence
                                                          funding allocations from 2010-11.
Director-General ESA highlights UK‟s small                Jean-Jacques Dordain D-G ESA has told the Commons S &T                   SS
contribution. 19 March                                    Committee inquiry into space that the UK government is an
Dordain evidence (audio) - available for one week.        “anomaly” among European Space Agency contributors because of
UK Commons S&T committee homepage                         the limited funding as a proportion of GNP it contributes. He partly
                                                          attributed this to a “confidence deficit” on the part of Defra.
                                                          Dordain said he would like to see more funding from the UK
                                                          towards the joint Commission-ESA Global Monitoring for
                                                          Environment and Security project (GMES) project. ESA is working to
                                                          establish the first ESA centre in the UK - a joint ESA-UK group had
                                                          been established and is expected to report at the end of May.

2. Key NERC meetings with the public sector
Meeting with:                                             Description/relevance                                                    Contact
Alistair Darling, DTI, 18 April, London                   Alan Thorpe meeting with Minister to discuss Science Budget              SS

Michael Kelly, Chief Scientific Adviser, Dept of          Alan Thorpe‟s introductory meeting with CSA, DCLG                        SS
Communities and Local Government, 5 June, London

3. Funding/Calls
Research Call/EoI                                         Description/relevance
Understanding The Contribution Of Grass Uplands To        Defra invites bids for a short desk study to assess the breadth of current
Water Quality. Closing date: 27 March 2007                knowledge on the role of upland grassland including in determining water
SFFSD 0611                                                quality, in the context of agricultural production in England and Wales.

Drinking Water Quality And Health Research Programme      Various projects relating to risks of contamination in drinking water.
Closing date: 20 April 2007
Understanding the Impact of Farming on Aquatic            Defra invite bids for a short desk study to explore and benchmark current
Ecosystems. Closing date. 23 April 2007                   knowledge and understanding of the effects of farming1 on aquatic ecosystems
SFFSD0612                                                 in England and Wales, and to identify future research needs.

Who Benefits From Flood Management Policies?              To undertake two separate but linked work streams, for flooding and for coastal
30 April 2007                                             erosion risks respectively. Both workstreams are to consider appropriate ways of
FD2606                                                    defining beneficiaries, in sectoral groups, and then develop and test
                                                          methodologies to better understand the gains and burdens for these groups and
                                                          sectors. These project fall under the „Strategy and Policy Development Theme
Developing The Evidence Base For Flood Resilience 30      Three projects :To assess the effectiveness of a range of resilience measures
April 2007FD2607                                          and resistance measures in reducing flood risk; To ascertain the principal
                                                          barriers to greater uptake of flood resistance and resilience measures; To
                                                          provide a preliminary appraisal of policy options for flood resilience and

4. Consultations and Inquiries
Consultation/inquiry                                      Description/relevance                                                    Contact
Defra seeks input on Yorkshire GM potato study. 28 Feb    Defra is seeking public input on an application from chemical            HC
Closing date 20 April. ø                                  company BASF to conduct research trials on genetically modified       potatoes in Yorkshire. BASF had previously been granted permission
=2&ReleaseID=267355                                       for two trials in Cambridgeshire and Derbyshire, but the company
                                                          now wants to move the Derbyshire site to Yorkshire.
Non-agricultural diffuse water pollution in England and   The papers cover the development of mechanisms under the Water           HC
Wales and mechanisms to deliver Water Framework           Framework Directive to tackle two different sets of pressures on the
Directive requirements on hydromorphology ø               water environment. We are issuing the papers simultaneously under          cover of an explanatory roof document which provides the context
hydromorphology/index.htm Deadline 28 May                 for them.

Defra publishes REACH consultation document. ø            REACH, (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals)         HC
Closing date: 4 June.                                     was agreed by the European Parliament and the EU Council on 18       December 2006. It will come into force on 1 June this year. The UK
=2&ReleaseID=270678                                       is required to have an enforcement and penalties regime in place
                                                          no later than 1 December 2008. Defra and the devolved

    “Farming” includes all forms of agriculture and horticulture.
                                                                administrations are encouraging industry, trade unions,
                                                                environmental groups, health and safety professionals and others to
                                                                comment on the proposals for enforcement.
Government publishes White Paper „ A Sea Change A               Defra sets out a radical new approach to the protection and use of             HC
Marine Bill White Paper‟. * Closing date 8 June.                the marine environment. The proposals include: A new UK-wide           system of marine planning; A streamlined, transparent and
whitepaper07/marinebill-whitepaper.pdf (paper)                  consistent system for licensing marine developments; A new           mechanism to protect marine biodiversity, including marine
whitepaper07/index.htm (details)                                protected areas; Improvements to the management of marine
                                                                fisheries; The creation of a Marine Management Organisation
                                                                (MMO) to join up our approach to the marine environment.
Defra consultation on Draft Climate Change Bill *               See Also ‘ News’ section above.                                                HC
ge-bill/index.htm Deadline 12 June.

Defra consultation on proposed changes to powers to             The consultation document is intended to achieve the                           HC
restrict non-essential uses of water ø                          following objectives:                - protection of water resources at times of shortage
restrictions/index.htm Deadline 15 June.                        - expansion of the range of discretionary uses of water not
                                                                 exclusively limited to water drawn through hosepipes;
                                                                - achievement of a broad demarcation between the domestic and
                                                                  commercial/public sectors
Non-agricultural diffuse water pollution in England and         This consultation covers the development of mechanisms under the               HC
Wales and mechanisms to deliver Water Framework                 Water Framework Directive to tackle two different sets of pressures
Directive requirements on hydromorphology ø                     on the water environment.
hydromorphology/index.htm Deadline 28 May

ø Non-consolidated * Helen Clayton will lead on a consolidated response from NERC. *? Possibly consolidated – contact Helen Clayton ?? Other

5. Reports and Publications
Report/ Publication                                             Description/relevance
Defra/NERC Awayday                                              Final report of the Awayday. Separate file attached.
22 November 2006

Government Response to HoC S&T report:                          In its response the government concedes that it has “much further still to
„Scientific Advice, Risk and Evidence Based Policy              go” to ensure that science is used and managed effectively in policy
Making‟. 27 February                                            making. The government also says it is committed to continuing to            improve its use of scientific advice, its management of risk, and its use of
select/cmsctech/307/307.pdf                                     evidence to support policy.
RCUK and others: „Impacts Successes from UK Research‟           The Research Councils UK(RCUK), Universities and Companies Association
highlights outcomes of basic research. 15 March                 (UNICO), and Universities UK, have jointly launched a new publication detailing            some of the products that had their origins in publicly funded basic research in
ions/impacts.pdf (report)                                       the UK. The launch took place at a parliamentary reception to mark National                  Science and Engineering Week.
(RCUK press release)
ERFF: 'Using Research to Inform Policy: the Role of             The study looks at the interface between environmental research and
Interpretation' 2 March                                         government departments and agencies in the UK. It examines the interpretation        that is provided when staff in these organisations request and use information
retstudy070302.pdf                                              from research. Current practice is examined and the difficulties that staff
                                                                encounter in: finding information on an issue, using information from
                                                                commissioned research, and keeping informed of developments in research.
                                                                The report recommends ways in which interpretation could be improved and
                                                                gives examples of the ways in which departments and agencies are already
                                                                doing this.
House of Commons S&T Committee                                  The Committee concludes that the UK RCI sector makes a highly valued and
„Research Council Institutes‟ Report. 22 March                  unique contribution to national scientific capacity. It received no evidence to            support the view that basic research should increasingly be done in universities,
select/cmsctech/68/68i.pdf (report)                             rather than separate research institutes. It also considers that the balance            between core funding and responsive mode funding available to RCIs works well
select/cmsctech/68/6812.htm (Conclusions/Recomm.)               at present and that there is no evidence that inappropriate levels of support are
                                                                given to RCIs in preference to universities. See report for full list of conclusions.
Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology                  The natural environment provides people with goods and services that are
Postnote 281 „Ecosystem Services‟ March 07                      fundamental to human wellbeing. Damage to the environment is seriously             degrading these services and this will have economic implications. This
.pdf                                                            POSTnote outlines what ecosystem services are, and how provisions for
                                                                maintaining them in the UK could be incorporated into policy frameworks.

List of contacts
SS       S Szalkowska   
HC       Helen Clayton  


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