Natural Environment Research Council

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Natural Environment Research Council
TypeResearch Council within UKRI
PurposeFunding of UK environmental science research
HeadquartersPolaris House
  • North Star Avenue,
    SN2 1EU
Region served
United Kingdom
Anthony Cleaver
Chief Executive
Duncan Wingham
Main organ
NERC Council
Parent organisation
£400 million

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is a British research council that supports research, training and knowledge transfer activities in the environmental sciences.


NERC began in 1965 when several environmental (mainly geographic) research organisations (including Nature Conservancy which became the Nature Conservancy Council in 1973 and was divided up in 1991) were brought under the one umbrella organisation.[1] When most research councils were re-organised in 1994, it had new responsibilities – Earth observation and science-developed archaeology. Collaboration between research councils increased in 2002 when Research Councils UK was formed.

Chief executives[edit]

  • Sir Graham Sutton (1965–1970)[2][3]
  • Professor James William Longman Beament (succeeding V. C. Wynne-Edwards FRS; 1978–1981)
  • Professor John Krebs, Baron Krebs (1994–1999)
  • Sir John Lawton (1999–2005)
  • Professor Alan Thorpe (2005–2011)
  • Dr Steven Wilson (Acting) – 2011–2012
  • Professor Duncan Wingham – from 1 January 2012[4]

Organisational structure[edit]

The council's head office is at Polaris House in Swindon, alongside the other six Research Councils. NERC's research centres provide leadership to the UK environmental science community and play significant and influential roles in international science collaborations.

Insignia Organisation
British Antarctic Survey
British Geological Survey
National Centre for Atmospheric Science
National Centre for Earth Observation
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (1994–2019)

It also supports a number of collaborative centres of excellence and subject-based designated Environmental Data Centres for the storage and distribution of environmental data.


The Natural Environment Research Council delivers independent research, survey, training and knowledge transfer in the environmental sciences, to advance knowledge of planet Earth as a complex, interacting system. The council's work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic sciences, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere, and from the geographical poles to the equator.

NERC's mission is to gather and apply knowledge, create understanding and predict the behaviour of the natural environment and its resources, and communicate all aspects of the council's work. The British Meteorological Office is not part of NERC.

NERC Airborne Research Facility[edit]

The Dornier Do 228 of the Natural Environment Research Council registered D-CALM.

The NERC Airborne Research Facility (ARF) collects and processes remotely sensed data for use by the scientific community. Data are collected from one of four Twin Otter research aircraft (or a Dash 7) operated by British Antarctic Survey, processed by a data analysis team at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and archived at the National Earth Observation Data Centre (NEODC). Currently the NERC ARF provides radiometrically corrected hyperspectral data from the AISA Fenix and Owl instruments; ground height information from the Leica ALS50-II; and digital photography.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Minister sets the new course for science". The Times. London: Times Newspapers. 12 December 1964. p. 12.
  2. ^ "Chief of Environment Research Council". The Times. London: Times Newspapers. 5 February 1965. p. 12.
  3. ^ Pasquill, F.; Sheppard, P. A.; Sutcliffe, R. C. (1978). "Oliver Graham Sutton 4 February 1903-26 May 1977". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 24. Royal Society: 529–546. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1978.0017.
  4. ^ "New Chief Executive announced for the Natural Environment Research Council". GOV.UK. Retrieved 24 August 2023.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]