Natural Environment Research Council

Natural Environment Research Council
Natural Environment Research Council
Abbreviation NERC
Formation 1965
Legal status Government agency
Purpose/focus Funding of UK environmental science research
Headquarters Polaris House
Location North Star Avenue, Swindon, UK
Region served UK
Chief Executive Dr Stephen Wilson (Acting)
Main organ NERC Council
Parent organization BIS
Budget £400m
Website NERC

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is a British research council that supports research, training and knowledge transfer activities in the environmental sciences.



NERC began in 1965 when several environmental (mainly geographic) research organisations (including Nature Conservancy which became the Nature Conservancy Council in 1973 and was divided up in 1991) were brought under the one umbrella organisation. When most research councils were re-organised in 1994, it had new responsibilities - Earth observation and science-developed archaeology. Collaboration between research councils increased in 2002 when Research Councils UK was formed.

Chief executives

  • Sir John Lawton 1999-2005
  • Professor Alan Thorpe 2005-2011
  • Dr Stephen Wilson (Acting) - 2011-2012
  • Professor Duncan Wingham - from 1st January 2012(BIS announcement)


The council's head office is at Polaris House in Swindon, alongside the other six Research Councils.

NERC supports several research centres including the British Antarctic Survey, the British Geological Survey, the National Oceanography Centre, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, the National Centre for Earth Observation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. It also supports a number of collaborative centres of excellence and subject-based designated Environmental Data Centres for the storage and distribution of environmental data.


The Natural Environment Research Council delivers independent research, survey, training and knowledge transfer in the environmental sciences, to advance knowledge of planet Earth as a complex, interacting system. The council's work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic sciences, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere, and from the geographical poles to the equator.

NERC's mission is to gather and apply knowledge, create understanding and predict the behaviour of the natural environment and its resources, and communicate all aspects of the council's work. The British Meteorological Office is not part of NERC.


In Sutradhar v Natural Environment Research Council [2006] UKHL 60, [2006] 4 All ER 490, the NERC was sued by a Bangladeshi national, Mr Sutradhur, who claimed that he got ill after drinking water that the NERC had done a report on. The NERC had prepared a geological report, which Mr Sutradhur alleged had induced the Bangladeshi government to not take any steps to ensure that the drinking water was not contaminated by arsenic. The House of Lords held that there was no proximate relationship between the parties to give rise to a duty of care. In other words, they held that the NERC's report were not there to be relied upon by residents that they had never heard of or met, even if the reports were negligently prepared.

Airborne Research and Survey Facility

The Dornier Do 228 of the Natural Environment Research Council registered D-CALM.

The NERC Airborne Research and Survey Facility (ARSF) collects and processes remotely sensed data for use by the scientific community. The data are collected by various instruments on-board a Dornier 228 research aircraft based in Gloucester, UK. These instruments currently include a Leica LIDAR and two hyperspectral sensors, Eagle and Hawk. Meteorological data are also collected in-flight.

Processing is performed by ARSF-DAN (Data Analysis Node) at Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

See also


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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