Report highlights NERC's value to the UK's economy and society

19 January 2015

Science Minister Greg Clark has today welcomed the publication of NERC's 2014 impact report.

The report showcases the value to the UK's economy and society of NERC's £330 million annual investment in world-leading research, training and innovation.

It shows how NERC funding for environmental science creates prosperity through both growth and cost-saving.

Flooded seaside town

This impact is achieved by engaging businesses across the breadth of NERC's science portfolio, leveraging private R&D investment worth £130 million a year and supporting the government's industrial strategy and Eight Great Technologies.

In agri-food, for example, investments of £10 million a year boosted food production and promoted economic growth while helping the industry to manage its environmental impact, and an environmental monitoring tool developed by NERC scientists increased output from Scottish fish farms by £79 million a year.

Further examples of where NERC investments have helped to meet some of the major environmental challenges facing our economy and society include the 2013-14 winter floods. Compared with flooding on a similar scale in 2007, a million more properties were protected, 50,000 fewer were flooded and insurance pay-outs were £2 billion lower.

With NERC entering its 50th year in 2015, the report also looks at some of the ways our science has profoundly affected all of our lives over the course of NERC's history.

For example, NERC research into atmospheric pollutants has helped to establish safe emissions limits and underpinned international protocols which have reduced UK sulfur pollution and acid rain by 80%.

Since 1965 NERC has also invested £50 million in the National Geological Repository. This continues to support oil, gas and mineral exploration, construction projects, groundwater management and nuclear waste disposal, generating around £500 million a year for the UK economy.

Professor Duncan Wingham, chief executive of NERC, said:

"A major challenge for the 21st century is to improve living standards in a way that is compatible with responsible management of our environment. Environmental science has an important role to play here, and this is why we make the commitment in our strategy to work in partnerships to ensure the full potential of NERC science is realised for the UK's economy and society.

The Impact Report clearly demonstrates our success in this area, as well as illustrating the long-term value of sustained funding for environmental science."

Minister for Universities, Science & Cities Greg Clark said:

"Britain's world-class reputation in science is founded on excellence and these reports clearly demonstrate how long-term investment in science is having a positive impact on the economy and wider society. Developing the right skills, leadership and infrastructure for UK research is key to our long-term economic plan and lies at the heart of our Science and Innovation Strategy."

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