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Think again on British Antarctic Survey merger

31 October 2012

The NERC council should not proceed with their current plans to merge the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) MPs have warned today.

The Science and Technology Committee was not convinced that the Research Council had properly made a case for the merger in terms of science or cost saving. The Committee also had concerns about the process of consultation and the apparent lack of concern about sensitive geo-political considerations surrounding the South Atlantic operations.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Andrew Miller MP, said:

"My Committee has considered the process undertaken to merge British Antarctic Survey and the National Oceanography Centre.  What we have concluded is that NERC have not made a proper case for it nor demonstrated political nous on the strong non-science related issues surrounding BAS.

We are sympathetic to NERCs requirements to save money and sympathetic to several of the suggestions they have to do this but they did not make the case that merging BAS and NOC was the best way to achieve these.  Given the world- renowned and respected brand of the British Antarctic Survey it should require the strongest possible case to be made to merge it into a science institution that does not have the same iconic status."

NERC are due to consider the merger in a NERC Council meeting on Thursday 1 November, this report has been produced quickly to ensure that the Council have time to take the Committee’s views into consideration. 


In September 2012, NERC began a consultation process on the merger of the British Antarctic Survey and the National Oceanography Centre.  NERC was due to make its decision about the merger in December 2012 but on 24 October announced the decision would be brought forward.  The Committee had been due to consider the issue in late November but in the interests of informing the Council’s decision brought forward its consideration and evidence taking to Wednesday 31 October.