NERC considers charitable status for new ownership model in two of its research centres

10 December 2014

NERC Council has agreed to proceed to the next stage of a process considering changes in the ownership and governance of two of its research centres. While no decision to change the status and move the centres out of NERC has been taken, the best option has been identified and steps will now be taken to test the readiness of the centres for changes in their ownership and governance.

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) will now begin an in-depth process to examine the benefits of not-for-profit charitable status which will protect their science and allow for potential diversification of funding. NERC will also continue to consider alternative options for the future ownership and governance of the British Geological Survey (BGS).

A change in ownership and governance of NOC and CEH is being considered to sustain their world-class reputation for science by giving them greater freedoms and flexibilities. This change would ensure both bodies continue to attract renowned scientists and deliver excellent science and innovation.

Both centres support the decision to proceed to the next stage of the process and agree that further exploration of the proposed model is the right way forward to protect and recognise their unique roles.

NERC Council continues to affirm the importance of sustaining long-term funding to its research centres. This will remain the case, regardless of changes in ownership and governance.

The Council decision to proceed to this next stage follows extensive consultation and engagement, and detailed planning at each of the centres and across NERC.

NERC chief executive, Professor Duncan Wingham, said:

"This is an important step in the journey we are on to determine the optimal model for the ownership and governance of NOC and CEH to sustain into the future their unique contribution to the excellence of UK environmental science. We also want to be sure that we maintain their scientific-frontier roles as well as continue to provide government with robust, independent advice. I look forward to working closely with NOC and CEH during this next stage of this process."

Council will now move to an approximately one- to two-year phase that will ensure the centres are fully equipped if they are to make a successful transition to independent operation. Further cross-government consultation and agreement is required alongside a process of testing readiness before any final decisions are made.

Further information

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