Many visitors to the Uk with an interest in Antarctica find their way to Cambridge, the home of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) that was established 60 years ago and now employs 400 staff and operates five research stations, two research ships and five aircraft in Antarctica.

However, yesterday plans were revealed to combine BAS and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) to form a new organisation that would have its HQ in Southampton. The BAS site in Madingley Rd Cambridge will remain under these new plans and would continue to be the main focus for all polar facilities – polar research stations and aircraft, polar logistics and operations, and related engineering and technology – other than for ships. The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which funds both the BAS and NOC, has launched a month-long consultation with staff about the proposals and a decision will be made in December.

Prof Ed Hill, interim director of BAS and director of NOC, said “The main idea is to really increase the UK’s clout in polar and marine sciences not only in the Antarctic, which BAS specialises in, but also the Arctic.”

“There are no plans to move large numbers of staff from Cambridge as a result.” and “It’s not driven by a desire to reduce staff numbers very significantly.”

He declared the idea was born from the “obvious links” between research into marine and polar sciences.

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