Boosting the UK economy means unlocking the full potential of every region in the country. The government recognises the important role of research and institutional strengths in creating productive and resilient local economies.
About the project
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) invests in infrastructure, people, research and innovation across the UK, delivering opportunities for location focussed environmental solutions. NERC’s work with business, government and wider society delivers solutions that help inform action, build resilience and foster a healthy environment and economy.
For example, the Regional Impact from Science of the Environment is a £12 million programme driving regional economic development by bringing together research organisations, businesses, policymakers and the third sector. Four projects have been funded to date, in the South West, Yorkshire, West Midlands, and London and the South East.
The benefits are felt in every corner of the country, summarised in the regional studies below.
Impacts of the project
UK renewables development was boosted by the pioneering Strangford Lough tidal turbine demonstrator facility, after research concluded that the risk to marine mammals should be low.
The Highland Council saved £390,000 in road gritting costs in one winter thanks to a new ice-forecasting method.
90% of flood defence costs (£2.25 million) was saved at Belford, Northumberland, after expert knowledge of local hydrology highlighted the potential to use natural flood management features.
Yorkshire and the Humber
Millions of pounds of spend were avoided by Yorkshire Water, thanks to research highlighting the effectiveness of peatland management in preventing water discolouration.
Information on stabilising derelict salt mines made it easier to deliver a £32 million remediation programme including housing and leisure facilities in Northwich, Cheshire.
Research into the impacts of mussel fishing led to higher yields for the Menai Straits mussel farming industry.
Supporting businesses with the use of satellite data led to the growth of 40 local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and a £2.9 million investment in the local economy
The effective planning of Birmingham’s water supply included identifying the location for a new supply well valued up to £30 million. This was supported by a hydrology model for the Birmingham aquifer.
The discovery that offshore wind turbine pylons do not increase coastal erosion saved the UK’s offshore wind farms, including Scroby Sands, Norfolk, £3.6 million in monitoring costs.
There was a 75% boost in profits at Falmouth port in Cornwall following advice from researchers on managing port operations, which also led to job creation and reductions in environmental impact.
Approval for Gunfleet Sands Wind Farm, Essex was secured using cutting-edge software that confirmed it was environmentally acceptable. This helped boost the UK’s renewables capacity.
Flooding that would cost the local economy £94 million per day was prevented through expert input informing decisions on when to close the Thames Barrier.
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Top image: Night map of the UK. Credit: Getty Images.