Friday, 2 November 2012

Cambridge MP Welcomes Decision To Abandon BAS Merger


Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has welcomed the news that the proposed British Antarctic Survey merger has been abandoned allowing BAS to remain independent in the city.

“I am delighted,” he said. “This is the right decision to safeguard the UK’s polar and climate research and protect its international reputation.

“The uncertainty over whether BAS would be merged with the Southampton-based National Oceanography Centre was badly hitting staff morale and threatening BAS’s global standing.

“If this merger had gone ahead it would have damaged the vital links BAS has with other organisations and send out a signal that its role was being downgraded. I can understand the benefits of the two organisations working better together but this forced merger was not the way. Now we have to fix morale and focus on developing the critical research it undertakes.”

Julian had been campaigning against the merger, holding meetings with BAS representatives, NGOs and businesses and he had lobbied members of the Natural Environment Research Council which was proposing the merger and ultimately made the decision.

He also submitted his views as part of the merger consultation and gave evidence to the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee.

The news comes as the Antarctic Bill gets its Second Reading in the House of Commons today (Friday, November 2).

Julian is a co-sponsor of the Bill which ratifies international agreements on the environment and scientific co-operation into UK law.

Scientists from the Cambridge-based British Antarctic Survey have undertaken the majority of Britain’s scientific research in the Antarctic for over 60 years sharing the continent with scientists from over 30 countries.

“BAS is so crucial to the future of science and the protection of this vitally important part of the planet,” said Julian. “The decision that has been made today will ensure that BAS’s vital work can continue. This is an excellent day for the future of polar research.”