Applying to use the facilities

NERC’s facilities, ships and aircraft are open for research and innovation and we are prioritising safety in how these operate, in line with Government regulations with regards to COVID-19.  Due to the impact of COVID-19 our facilities are providing support on a best endeavours basis and some facilities are experiencing a backlog of requests.  If you wish to request use of any of the following facilities, ships or aircraft please talk directly to the facility (contacts are below) to discuss what is possible and when, so they can support you during these exceptional circumstances.


Atmospheric Measurement and Observation Facility (AMOF)

Antarctic Research Facilities

Arctic Research Facilities

British Ocean Sediment Core Research Facility (BOSCORF)

Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa   

European Incoherent Scatter Radar (EISCAT)  UK Support Facility

Facility For Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM)

Field Spectroscopy Facility 

Geophysical Equipment Facility

Ion Microprobe Facility

Marine Facilities including Research Ships and National Marine Equipment Pool

National Environmental Isotopes Facility

NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility (NBAF)/NERC Environmental Omics Facility (NEOF)

NERC Earth Observation Data Acquisition and Analysis Service (NEODASS)


If you are eligible for a NERC training award or research grant, you can apply for access to any of our Scientific Support & Facilities (S&F). You can find out more about your eligibility by reading section C of the Research Grants Handbook.

Before submitting your application to use any of our facilities, it is important that you first seek the advice of the relevant facility contact. View the full list of facilities for information on who to contact.

Access to NERC S&F for NERC grant-funded work

Access to NERC facilities for NERC grant-funded work is provided in two ways – ‘notionally awarded’ or on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis.

Notionally awarded (block funded)

The majority of NERC funded facilities are block funded (where NERC pays a fixed amount to the facility on a quarterly basis) and the funds are awarded to the Principle Investigator (PI) notionally.

To access a facility the costs must be included in grant applications under ‘directly incurred other’ costs. The NERC facility box must be ticked and the relevant facility selected from the drop-down list. Once awarded the costs associated with NERC grant-funded work are awarded notionally to the PI. This means the costs are removed from the grant and NERC then provides the funding directly to the facility. PI’s must submit an application to the facility steering committee once the grant is awarded.

Pay as you go

The Ocean Bottom Instrument Facility (OBIF), which forms part of the Geophysical Equipment Facility (GEF) is funded on a pay-as-you-go basis. Researchers can only apply to this facility once they have secured funds to cover the full costs from one or other of the NERC funding modes.

Access to NERC S&F for non-NERC grant-funded work

NERC also provide direct access to facilities by a ‘grant in kind’, subject to peer-review and approval by the facility steering committee. Direct access is not available for NERC grant-funded work.

NERC grant applications involving NERC facilities

If you are applying for a research grant that requires support from one of our facilities, it is important to discuss your needs with the head of the facility at least two months prior to submitting your application.

In addition the lead applicant must:

  • State on fellowship, studentship and grant application forms which scientific support and facilities are required and who within the facility has been contacted to discuss proposed work
  • Include the estimated costs of the facility within the section on the application form titled ‘directly incurred other costs’. (This is not necessary for studentships, unless using a pay-as-you-go facility)

Submit a mandatory technical assessment document (a quote for the facility work), supplied by the facility, as part of their grant application.

List of NERC facilities requiring a technical assessment attachment (PDF, 50KB)

Applications to the facility steering committee

After contacting the relevant facility and completing the application form that they provide, you will need to submit the form to the appropriate steering committee (it is important to note on the application if the work is part of a NERC grant).

Applications for the use of facilities to support student training should be made by the student’s supervisor.

All applications for work to be carried out by the facility will be subject to the endorsement of the facility’s steering committee.

If you are a NERC grant-holder and have not included the facility costs into your grant application please contact to discuss prior to submitting an application to the facility steering committee.

Read our indemnity guide, which covers the loss and/or damage to equipment loaned from NERC facilities.

Indemnity guide (PDF, 22KB)