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Polar Research

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the future of an independent UK polar research capability, with particular reference to (a) future funding, (b) planned projects and (c) pooling of resources. (95369)

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). BAS undertakes the majority of Britain's scientific research on and around the Antarctic continent. In addition, NERC supports the Antarctic Funding Initiative (AFI) which provides access to Antarctica for scientists from NERC and the UK's university community.

NERC supports environmental research in the Arctic at UK universities and research institutes. NERC also leases buildings at the International Science Facility at Ny Ålesund in Svalbard for the NERC Arctic Research Station, which BAS manages.

(a) and (b) The BAS research programme is planned and funded on a five-year timetable and the current programme ‘Global Science in the Antarctic Context', ends on 31 March 2010, further details of which are available at www.antarctica.ac.uk. BAS has also received additional funding to construct a new research station at Halley, which will be operational for the 2009-10 Antarctic season.

Details of the funding allocation to BAS are in the table:

£ million

Resource Budget

Capital Budget

Total Budget

2006-07

38.0

12.5

50.5

2007-08

40.7

17.0

57.7

2008-09

39.0

7.0

46.0

2009-10

37.8

4.3

42.1

(c) Co-operation within Antarctica on logistical matters is standard operational practice, and BAS has formal agreements with Chile, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands and the USA.