Environmental science benefits people across the UK

Night map of the UK. Credit: Getty images

Environmental science delivers benefits in every region of the UK, providing solutions that build resilience and foster a healthy environment and economy.

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 focused 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

Northern Ireland

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.

Scottish Highlands

The Highland Council saved £390,000 in road gritting costs in one winter thanks to a new ice-forecasting method.

Lorry spreading grit on snowy road

A grit spreader on a snowy road. Image credit: Getty Images.

North East

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.

North West

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.

East Midlands

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

West Midlands

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.

East England

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.

South West

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.

South East

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.
Find out more

Read the 2017 Impact Report.

Find out more about Regional Impact from Science of the Environment (RISE).

Top image:  Night map of the UK. Credit: Getty Images.

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