Product has been added to the basket

BGS Funding 'secure'

;jkhIn a letter to stakeholders in June, BGS Director Prof. John Ludden CGeol FGS set out the future for the BGS core science programme.

British Geological Survey (BGS) is about to undertake its ‘biggest transformation since joining NERC in 1965’, gaining more independence than it has enjoyed in half a century and becoming ‘a new form of geological survey’, according to BGS Director, Prof. John Ludden, in his June letter to stakeholders.  However, this will not be achieved without significant reorganisation, he warns, much of which is already underway; though it will seem ‘more acute this year’.

He described BGS funding as ‘relatively secure’ though UK government funding was ‘becoming increasingly targeted’.  This will mean suspending some activities while increasing others, he said.

Core budget

BGS has agreed with NERC that its core budget will be ring-fenced and ‘clearly directed to national and public good (NPG) activities’.  This recognition, Ludden believes, will be ‘powerful’ for BGS.  To oversee the spending of this core budget, and BGS activity in general, NERC will create a new, independent BGS Board, to which members will be appointed in the coming months.  An advert for its Chair was posted in June with a closing date of July 21.  The Board will sit within UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), the planned new government department which is expected to be up and running from April 2018, following Royal Assent to the passage of the Higher Education & Research Act 2017.

Research Council funding has been increased in the current Comprehensive Spending Review by ‘a significant amount’ for ‘Official Development Assistance’ (ODA).  Some of that money will come to NERC, and find its way to BGS (15% of the NERC core budget – about £8m).  So while BGS will no longer have to compete against research-based core funding, less of its money will be spent in the UK.  BGS will therefore ‘reassign’ some UK national activities, Ludden said.


BGS is developing three ODA ‘platforms’ – on East African geoscience, on SE Asian megacities and their hinterlands, and on global geological risk.  Ludden believes these will position BGS to compete for additional money in the Global Challenges Research Fund, where most ODA funds reside.  BGS will also invest £31m (from the Dept. for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)) to create ‘world-class subsurface energy-research test centres’ dubbed ‘UK GeoEnergy Observatories’ (UKGEOS).  Each site, in different areas of the UK, will consist of a network of deep and shallow boreholes enabling long-term subsurface observation ‘in unprecedented detail’.

BGS will in future ‘explicitly map [its] innovation funding to science directorates’ investing that 15% of core budget for the coming three years in support of innovation.  Ludden also hopes that, as 5% of BGS funding comes from the EU, the UK will continue to invest in EU infrastructure, ‘especially as some of these facilities are key to UK international competitiveness’.

BGS will re-structure its directorates, reassigning staff in Geology and regional Geophysics and the Land, Soils and Coast Directorates elsewhere ‘in key directorates’.  BGS will then focus on three challenges, including: decarbonizing power production, heat, transport and industry; adapting to environmental change, and natural geological hazards and risk.  BGS will focus less on ‘rocks and sediments as indicators of past events’ and more on ‘rocks as conduits for processes that affect lives and livelihoods’, Ludden said.

Regional delivery for England will be enhanced to match that already being delivered from the newly relocated BGS Cardiff and BGS Scotland offices, with new hubs for S&SE England, Midlands/East Anglia, and the North. BGS will continue to put boots on the ground, Ludden says, enhancing training and CPD for field geologists.

Adler deWind