Climate change scientists protest at cuts


Climate change scientists protest at cuts

Climate change scientists will visit the House of Commons on 8 February to highlight damaging proposals to close four research centres involved in groundbreaking scientific investigations into global warming and pollution.

Researchers from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology’s sites across the UK will gather by St Stephen’s Gate, Westminster at 3.45pm before entering the Commons to brief MPs on the scientific areas likely to suffer from the cuts.

Four CEH laboratories face the axe under restructuring plans from its parent organisation, the Natural Environment Research Council, which will result in a loss of a third of CEH’s total 600 staff. They include the sites at Winfrith in Dorset, Monk’s Wood in Cambridgeshire, Banchory in Scotland and Oxfordshire.

The scientists’ union Prospect has warned that:

  • CEH’s ability to contribute to the evidence base on highly political issues at the forefront of public concern will be impeded. This includes the debates over energy policy, climate change, GM crops, the ecological condition of rivers and declining fish stocks
  • much of CEH’s research requires frequent visits to long established field sites, many located near sites marked for closure. This will become more expensive and time-consuming, if not impossible
  • cuts in highly-skilled staff contradict the Research Council UK’s commitment to address the skills shortage in the UK science and engineering base.
Prospect National Secretary Tony Bell said: "We are challenging NERC’s insistence that the closures are vital to repair a budget deficit of over £1m and have written to the Science Minister Lord Sainsbury to highlight an independent report that estimates CEH only needs an extra £1.4m to achieve stability. This could be secured from external funding but, instead, NERC seems determined to push the restructuring through at a cost of £45m to the taxpayer."