Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Derisking geological disposal of radioactive waste in the UK

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Apply for funding to understand and predict how potential lower strength sedimentary host rock environments might be impacted by the introduction of a geological disposal facility for radioactive waste.

You will apply new expertise to address 3 challenge areas:

  • geological isolation
  • contaminant pathways
  • mathematical modelling

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for NERC funding.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £5 million. NERC will fund 80% of the full economic cost for UK organisations.

Projects must start by 2 October 2023 and last no longer than 48 months.

Who can apply

Normal individual eligibility applies. Check if you are eligible for funding.

Research grants are open to:

  • approved UK higher education institutions
  • approved research council institutes
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-approved independent research organisations
  • eligible public sector research establishments
  • catapults

Principal investigators and co-investigators must meet the eligibility criteria in section C of the NERC research grants and fellowships handbook.

IIASA co-investigator eligibility rules apply to this funding opportunity. Further details are available on the UKRI website.

The new ‘money follows cooperation’ agreement with Norway applies to this funding opportunity. Find out about collaborating with researchers in Norway.

All costs related to these 2 international co-investigator agreements would be funded at 100% of eligible direct costs only. The maximum amount that can be requested for all international costs is 30% of the total full economic cost of the project.

Funding can not be requested for other non-UK collaborators (beyond allowable incidental expenses), who would need to be involved as a project partner.

Applications from organisations or individuals that are not eligible will be rejected without reference to panel review.

You may be involved in no more than 2 proposals submitted to this funding opportunity. Only 1 of these may be as the lead principal investigator.

Project partners

Participating organisations not meeting the criteria for co-investigators can be project partners on a grant based on the following requirements:

  • third sector organisations: non-governmental organisations, charities and other non-profit civil society organisations (not meeting the minimum requirements for research partner organisations) can be included on proposals as project partners and are eligible to receive a contribution towards costs from the award
  • government departments and business: overseas and UK government departments and businesses should be engaged where appropriate but are not eligible to directly receive funds on the awards

Sub-contracts

Sub-contracts are eligible costs on proposals submitted to this funding opportunity but should only be used for the procurement of goods and services. Sub-contracts are not permitted for research partners providing intellectual input into the project, where a research partner or project partner relationship is more appropriate.

It is important to highlight that any UK research organisation awarded a grant is responsible for the conduct and administration of that grant. It is accountable for the effective use of public funds and must therefore ensure that all grant monies are subject to proper financial management processes.

It is the research organisation’s responsibility to ensure that:

  • expenditure on collaborations in the UK and abroad is subject to robust controls to ensure value for money and propriety
  • all costs should be fully vouched and maintained for possible inspection and checks by, or on behalf of, UKRI

Diversity and inclusion

NERC and NWS value diversity and inclusion across all their funding programmes, and actively encourages proposals from diverse groups of researchers.

NERC

NERC is committed to creating and sustaining a positive, fair and inclusive environment for our research community to ensure that all candidates feel welcomed, included and valued. We will seek to go beyond our statutory duties and be a beacon for diversity across the environmental science community.

Achieving a high level of diversity within the NERC community provides an excellent foundation and environment for research and innovation priorities to flourish, and actively encourages proposals from diverse groups of researchers.

NWS

NWS demonstrates commitment towards equality diversity and inclusion (EDI) through our active EDI working group that strives to ensure these values are reflected in all our activities.

We continuously drive to embed an organisational culture with EDI at its core, ensuring everyone is treated fairly and with respect, allowing employees to be their best and bring their ‘whole self’ to work.

NWS particularly recognises the value of diversity in research. Through our Research Support Office, NWS is striving to build working relationships and partnerships with a wide network of universities and academic institutions to ensure all perspectives are represented.

What we're looking for

Programme scope

NERC and NWS will fund a single multidisciplinary consortium of researchers to undertake fundamental underpinning research to advance our understanding of the potential effects that the introduction of a geological disposal facility (GDF) for radioactive waste might have on lower strength sedimentary host rock. This includes detailed conceptualisation of the geology and groundwater.

The UK has generated electricity from nuclear power for more than 60 years. The use of nuclear power is set to persist and scale up as part of the UK government’s plan to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

To deliver these objectives there is a need to have a clear plan for disposal of the generated nuclear waste in a way that is not harmful to the environment or human health.

The development of a GDF is central to government policy regarding the management of higher activity radioactive wastes. Lower strength sedimentary rocks (LSSR) are one of the geological environments identified as being potentially suitable for providing a host rock in which to construct a GDF.

However, there are fundamental knowledge gaps around the geology, hydrogeology and controls on subsurface properties of these systems. These knowledge gaps must be addressed to provide the fundamental underpinning knowledge required to inform future decisions around disposal of radioactive waste as the UK transitions to low carbon energy production.

This programme is independent from other NWS investments and work concerning siting of a GDF within the UK. The programme will support fundamental research into the geology and dynamics of how fluids flow through generalised lower-strength sedimentary rock environments. Research conducted and funded by this programme will not form the appraisal of any specific site. Geographic selection of the site, or sites, of any field research necessary to meet the programme objectives, will need to be fully justified within the proposal.

It is expected that through the partnership between NERC and NWS, the funded consortium will work with other current NWS investments including via the Research Support Office. An appropriate budget should be included within the proposal to facilitate this interaction and other relevant activities (see ‘Engagement with NWS Research Support Office’ heading).

Programme objectives

Applications to this funding opportunity must address all 3 of the programme objectives. The proposal should demonstrate integration of new research in geology, hydrogeology, radionuclide behaviour and predictive modelling to understand and predict how potential lower strength sedimentary host rock environments might be impacted by the introduction of a GDF.

1. Geological isolation challenges

The effective, long-term isolation of radioactive waste requires a detailed knowledge of the physico-chemical nature of the larger rock volume within which the waste will be disposed. In turn, understanding the resilience of the rock volume to perturbations in stress, chemistry and temperature, induced by subsurface engineering, waste emplacement, and GDF closure, is key.

This objective focuses on characterisation and conceptualisation of geological complexity and heterogeneity at multiple length and time scales within LSSR, addressing key knowledge gaps such as:

  • uncertainty around the likely variation in values describing the magnitude and evolution of flow and geomechanical properties in LSSR formations in the UK (for example with varying lithology and heterogeneity)
  • identification of key processes (for example, advection versus diffusion in the matrix, or transmissivity in the undisturbed far field or excavated damage zone) and how they will evolve over the lifetime of the repository

Research questions could include (but are not limited to):

  • characterisation of the lithological heterogeneity of LSSRs on all scales:
    • what is the level of heterogeneity at scales from pore to geological formation?
    • what influences this heterogeneity?
    • what effect does this heterogeneity have on the resulting range in physical properties, specifically multiphase flow and mechanical?
  • quantifying existing natural fracture paths and those produced by the engineered structure:
    • what is the nature of pre-existing fracture networks on all scales within LSSRs?
    • what type of fracture damage would be introduced around the engineered structure?
    • what intrinsic properties, or burial or diagenetic history of LSSRs determines the propensity for fracture damage?
  • evolution of critical flow pathways:
    • how does the host rock or fracture networks respond to existing or changing environmental conditions (thermal, chemical, biological) over timescales commensurate with the lifetime of the GDF?
    • what are the parameters that increase the probability of self-sealing?

2. Contaminant pathways

The aim of this objective is to develop a mechanistic understanding of retention and, or transport within LSSR, for:

  • priority radionuclides (for example, uranium and uranium series radionuclides)
  • longer lived fission products and non-radioactive contaminants (for example, organics and heavy metals)

To increase understanding of the key controls on radionuclide transport processes in evolving LSSR systems, this objective will focus on radionuclide and, or contaminant behaviour, including:

  • radionuclide interactions within relevant LSSR host rock materials
  • groundwater geochemistry
  • biogeochemistry

Research questions could include (but are not limited to):

  • what is the long-term fate of radionuclides within realistic LSSR systems considering spatial and temporal heterogeneity and scale (for example, pressure, temperature, gases, salinity, redox, pH and microbiology)
  • what are the biogeochemical characteristics which make an LSSR system a robust barrier to radionuclide release, and how do these differ between LSSRs?
  • what are the impacts of the critical transport and dispersion pathways in LSSR systems (for example, advective vs diffusive) on radionuclide behaviour and how do we improve predictability of these controls?
  • what is the potential impact of the chemical and, or engineered disturbed zone on radionuclide transport in LSSR systems (for example, in altering or affecting mobility of higher-solubility radionuclides)?
  • how do we optimise experimental systems to provide the advanced mechanistic understanding required to underpin and feed into robust predictive modelling?

3. Mathematical modelling

The outputs of objectives 1 and 2 will form the baseline information which will be used to develop system level mathematical models of the key sedimentary systems.

The mathematical models and codes developed as part of this research programme will focus on several key processes that would affect the environment surrounding a GDF, for example:

  • thermal effects from waste and damage caused by excavation process
  • fracture network development and consequent effects on water and gas flow and transport properties
  • deformation processes within the host rock and the overall geochemical evolution of the system

Additionally, this objective will seek to take new approaches to computational modelling by:

  • building fully coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical-chemical (THMC) computational codes that can accurately model the growth and coalescence of fracture networks in LSSR
  • validating these codes against relevant analytical solutions and, or data generated in objectives 1 and 2 of the programme.

Funding and duration

We will fund a single consortium to address all 3 objectives of the programme.

The full economic cost of the project can be up to £5 million. We will fund 80% of the full economic cost for eligible UK organisations following full economic costing principles such that the total cost to NERC and NWS is no greater than £4 million. The exceptions to this are:

  • directly incurred equipment (over £10,000) is funded at 50%
  • eligible international co-investigator costs (under the IIASA or Norway agreement) are funded at 100% for eligible direct costs. This can be a maximum of 30% of the total full economic cost of the grant, which for this funding opportunity equates to a maximum of £1.2 million. Find out about collaborating with researchers in Norway and refer to the guidance for how to enter international costs in the Joint electronic Submission (Je-S) form.

For example:

Cost type Requested costs Funding from NERC or NWS if successful
UK projects costs £3312.5k (100% full economic cost) £2650k (at 80%)
UK equipment 300k (100% full economic cost) £150k (at 50%)
IIASA or Norway co-investigator costs (up to £1.2 for this funding opportunity) £1200k (at 100% direct costs £1200k
Total £4812.5k £4,000k

Projects must start no later than 2 October 2023 and last no longer than 48 months.

Programme requirements

In addition to achieving the scientific objectives, the project is also required to undertake the following activities that must be planned for in the project proposal.

Engagement with NWS Research Support Office (RSO)

The RSO is a dedicated office funded through NWS to support the delivery of independent evidence-based research to underpin the implementation of a UK GDF.

The funded consortium will be expected to engage with the NWS RSO community. This will link the consortium with the wider GDF programme, including the community of more than 100 researchers, academics and NWS subject matter experts working on GDF related research in the UK.

The funded consortium will be expected to attend the RSO annual conference. Travel and subsistence costs for this should be included in the submitted project budget along with any other foreseeable costs that might be needed to support engagement with the NWS RSO.

Stakeholder engagement

Whilst this research programme sits apart from and is independent to wider work on siting a GDF within the UK, the knowledge and evidence generated here will be critical to informing decisions and policies pertaining to storage of radioactive waste in the UK. Additionally, it will inform wider discussions surrounding use of the subsurface as part of the green energy transition.

We expect that the proposal will detail:

  • any proposed mechanisms or strategies to encourage impact from and uptake of the data, evidence and understanding generated as part of the programme
  • stakeholder engagement plans to ensure this impact and uptake

Diversity within consortia

NERC and NWS encourage the construction of diverse project teams, including early career researchers.

Proposals should demonstrate how early career researchers will be supported to develop their careers, to ensure capacity building for the future in this field. In addition, project plans should ensure they address how diversity and inclusion best practise will be considered and embedded in all project activities undertaken.

The assessment panel will consider the diversity of the project team along with due consideration for championing diversity and inclusion within project plans, as part of the assessment criteria (see ‘How we will assess your application’).

NERC facilities

British Geological Survey (BGS) core store

Principal investigators wishing to access geological samples at the BGS core store within the National Geological Repository need to contact the core store at least 2 months prior to submitting a proposal.

They will need to discuss the proposed work and receive confirmation that the services required can be provided within the timeframe of the grant.

The core store will provide a letter of support to:

  • state that the access required is feasible within the timeframe of the grant
  • outline the estimated number of lab days required, and the associated costs, which should be included in the grant, under the directly incurred other costs heading

UK Geoenergy Observatories (UKGEOS)

NERC’s new UKGEOS facility has 2 sites in Glasgow and Cheshire with networks of instrumented boreholes that are available for use in research into subsurface fluid flow and other experiments, supported by core and other materials collected during construction. Please visit the UKGEOS website for more details on how to further discuss your research idea and to request access to the facility and related samples.

Other services and facilities

Principal investigators wishing to use other NERC services and facilities will need to contact the relevant facility at least 2 months prior to submitting a proposal.

They will need to discuss the proposed work and receive confirmation that they can provide the services required within the timeframe of the grant.

The facility will then provide a technical assessment that includes the calculated cost of providing the service.

NERC services and facilities must be costed within the limits of the proposal. The technical assessment must be submitted as part of the Je-S form, as detailed in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Find out about NERC facilities that require a technical assessment, excluding high performance computing, ship-time or marine equipment and the large research facilities at Harwell as these services have their own policies for access and costing.

Data management

The NERC data policy must be adhered to, and an outline data management plan produced as part of proposal development.

NERC will pay the data centre directly on behalf of the programme for archival and curation services. Applicants should ensure that they request sufficient resource to cover preparation of data for archiving by the research team.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in:

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

When applying:

  • select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’
  • select ‘call search’
  • to find the opportunity, search for: Derisking geological disposal of radioactive waste in the UK

This will populate:

  • council: NERC
  • document type: Standard Proposal
  • scheme: Directed International
  • call/type/mode: Derisking geological disposal of radioactive waste in the UK

Once you have completed your application, make sure you click ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

Deadline

NERC must receive your application by 23 March 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

Any proposal that is incomplete or does not meet NERC’s eligibility criteria or follow NERC’s submission rules in the NERC research grant and fellowship handbook will be office rejected and will not be considered.

Attachments

In addition to the Je-S application, you must include the following mandatory documents:

  • case for support
  • justification of resources
  • CVs
  • project partner letter or letters of support
  • other letter or letters of support
  • outline data management plan
  • facility form (if applicable)
  • technical assessment (if applicable)
  • equipment quotes (if applicable)

You may also wish to include a proposal cover letter. This is optional and only relevant in specific circumstances.

Case for support

This should include information about:

  • previous track record incorporating all research organisations involved (up to 3 sides of A4)
  • description of the proposed research including all necessary tables, references and figures (up to 16 sides of A4)
  • description of the proposed management structure and plans, participant responsibilities, and scheduling chart (up to 2 sides A4)

Justification of resources

This should be a narrative description of why you require the resources requested, including:

  • resources requested for all research organisations in the proposed grant
  • justification for items of equipment between £10,000 and the UK Research and Innovation equipment threshold of £138,000 (£115,000 excluding VAT)
  • full justification of all facility costs (excluding high performance computing) included as estimates on proposals. Use of ARCHER2 should be included as an estimate in million allocation units
  • costs must be included for engagement with RSO including travel and subsistence for attending Research Support Office annual conferences

CVs

CVs (up to 2 sides A4 for each CV) are required for:

  • named research staff (including researcher co-investigators)
  • visiting researchers
  • all principal and co-investigators named in the proposal

Project partner letter or letters of support

Letters of support (up to 2 sides A4 each) are required for any named project partner.

Other letter or letters of support

If wishing to access the core store at the National Geological Repository, a letter of support from the core store is required, to:

  • state that the access required is feasible within the timeframe of the grant
  • outline the estimated number of lab days required, and the estimated associated costs, which should be included in the grant

Outline data management plan

Up to 1 side of A4. See outline data management plan template and guidance.

Facility form

This should only be completed for applications for high performance computing when the use of ARCHER2 exceeds 500 kCU (in any 1 year) for the whole project.

Technical assessment

This is mandatory for any NERC facility selected on the Je-S proforma except those listed as needing a ‘facility form’. The full list of NERC facilities that require a technical assessment can be found in our guidance on how to find a NERC facility or resource.

This attachment should be a quote from the relevant facility. It is for internal NERC use and will not go out to peer review or panels.

Equipment quotes

Additional justification and supporting documentation are required for items over £10,000.

Find out more about equipment costs in the NERC research grants and fellowships handbook.

Individual items of equipment below £10,000 (including VAT) should be included in ‘other directly incurred costs’ within your Je-S application.

Proposal cover letter

This attachment is optional. It does not go out to reviewers. It should only be used to flag up a significant issue to the NERC office (for example, a request not to use a certain reviewer). This attachment should be used to declare any relevant interests.

Document requirements

Attachments must be completed in single-spaced typescript of minimum font size 11 point (Arial or other sans serif typeface of equivalent size to Arial 11), with margins of at least 2cm. The only exception is letters of support and services, facilities, or equipment quotes.

Please note that Arial narrow, Calibri and Times New Roman are not allowable font types. Any proposal which has used either of these font types within their submission will be rejected.

References and footnotes should also be at least 11 point font and should be in the same font type as the rest of the document. Headers and footers should not be used for references or information relating to the scientific case. Applicants referring to websites should note that referees may choose not to use them.

You should ensure that your proposal conforms to all eligibility and submission rules, otherwise your proposal may be rejected without peer review. More details on NERC’s submission rules can be found in the NERC research grants and fellowships handbook and in the submission rules on the NERC website.

Proposals for this funding opportunity should be submitted in large grant (full proposals) format following the requirements outlined in section F of the NERC research grant and fellowships handbook.

Please note that on submission to council all non PDF documents are converted to PDF. The use of non-standard fonts may result in errors or font conversion, which could affect the overall length of the document.

Additionally, where non-standard fonts are present, and even if the converted PDF document may look unaffected in the Je-S system, when it is imported into the research councils grants system some information may be removed. We therefore recommend that where a document contains any non-standard fonts (scientific notation, diagrams etc.), the document should be converted to PDF prior to attaching it to the proposal.

No associated studentships can be requested under this funding opportunity.

Please note that applications may be shared with NWS as joint funder of this programme for information only. The successful consortium’s grant agreement will be shared with NWS as a co-funder for legal purposes.

How we will assess your application

All proposals received that meet the eligibility criteria will be assessed by an independent panel of experts during an interview panel. The interview panel is expected to take place during May 2023, and up to 3 individuals from each applicant consortium will be invited to present their project plan.

Applications will be fully assessed by the expert panel. Applications will not be sent to reviewers and therefore applicants will not receive reviewer comments. Initial questions from the panel will be shared with the principal investigators in advance of the interview panel, which principal investigators will be expected to address within their interview presentation.

The funders will use the recommendations of the panel along with the overall funding opportunity requirements and the available budget in making the final funding decisions.

The 3 assessment criteria that will be used to assess proposals are as follows:

Research excellence

This includes:

  • the suitability of the methodology to achieve the project’s aims
  • the ambition, novel approaches and transformative aspects or potential outcomes that the proposed research might achieve
  • the balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators and partners
  • the leadership, management plans and capability to deliver the research

Fit to scheme

This includes:

  • the alignment of the proposed project to the funding opportunity
  • the potential to meaningfully advance the knowledge around all objectives

Diversity and inclusion

This includes:

  • a diverse team has been assembled that brings new perspectives on the research area, with inclusion of early career researchers and potential for career development
  • the proposal demonstrates an approach and commitment to championing diversity and inclusion by removing barriers to research activities and promoting an open and inclusive research community

In addition, the panel will consider the resources requested. If they are not reasonably justified, then the panel will flag any suggested amendments to the funders to consider how best to proceed before making any award.

Feedback will be provided to both successful and unsuccessful applicants, summarising the reasons why the proposal was successful or unsuccessful.

COVID-19

UK Research and Innovation recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities.

We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their careers that may have been caused by the pandemic such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of on-going work
  • role changes

Panel members will be advised to consider:

  • the unequal impacts of the impact that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the track record and career development of those individuals included in the proposal
  • the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal, please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Please be aware that your query may be shared with the funding partner, NWS.

Email: geodraw@nerc.ukri.org

We aim to respond within 5 working days.

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times.

Additional info

Background

For more than 60 years the UK has generated electricity from nuclear power with 15 to 20% of our electricity generation in recent years coming from nuclear.

Nuclear power is an essential component of delivering an energy secure net zero future both through direct electricity production and in areas such as supporting the electrolytic production of hydrogen.

The UK government has committed to continued investment into the nuclear energy sector, building on the long-term, low CO2, secure contribution that nuclear power has made to our electricity supply to date.

To continue to invest in nuclear energy, there will need to be plans in place for the safe disposal of radioactive waste produced across the nuclear fuel cycle.

The UK has a significant legacy of ‘higher activity’ nuclear wastes (approximately 500,000 m3) and these need to be managed to isolate and contain the radioactivity to protect people and the environment over long timescales.

In line with international best practice, the UK government policy for long-term management of higher activity radioactive wastes in England and Wales is disposal in a bespoke geological disposal facility (GDF).

Lower strength sedimentary rocks (LSSRs) are one of the 3 representative geologies identified as being potentially suitable to host a GDF in the UK. However, UK LSSRs (for example Oxford Clay, Mercia Mudstone) are relatively poorly characterised or understood at the depths required for implementation of deep geological disposal (200 to 1000m depth).

To inform considerations of feasibility and any safety case for a GDF hosted within LSSRs, fundamental, underpinning research is needed. This includes:

  • developing a detailed and predictive understanding of the geology and hydrogeology of these sedimentary environments
  • developing an increased understanding of and ability to predict the transport and fate of radionuclides over the extended lifetimes required for safe disposal in the GDF (tens to hundreds of thousands of years)

This programme will provide cutting edge, underpinning evidence to inform decisions as the UK transitions towards low carbon energy production.

Webinar

NERC and NWS will be hosting a participatory webinar and networking event on 19 January 2023 at 10:00am to 1:00pm, which will:

  • introduce potential applicants to the objectives and scope of the funding opportunity
  • answer questions about the funding opportunity
  • provide an opportunity for networking, to support the creation of new, diverse research teams

Please register to attend the webinar on Eventbrite before 10 January 2023.

Attendance at the webinar and networking event is not a requirement for submitting a proposal to this funding opportunity.

Document sharing

All documents submitted to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in relation to this programme may be shared with NWS as co-funder, for the purposes of assessment and assurance.

Programme management

The funders (NERC and NWS) will form a Programme Executive Board (PEB), alongside invited experts, to advise programme direction. The PEB will have oversight for delivery and strategic direction of the research programme.

Reporting requirements

Successful applicants will be required to report research outcomes on Researchfish in line with standard UKRI terms and conditions. This is required annually and continues for up to 5 years post grant end.

Additionally, the project principal investigators will be required to report on their activities to the PEB at circa 6 monthly intervals and as required.

The PEB may provide feedback on ongoing project activities, including directing delivery of future activities as necessary and in line with the overall objectives of the programme. It is expected that the project principal investigators will follow any feedback and direction provided by the PEB.

Knowledge exchange and impact

Knowledge exchange is vital to ensure that environmental research has wide benefits for society and should be an integral part of any research. Public engagement is a key part of knowledge exchange, and a route to increasing the impact of research.

A separate pathways to impact statement is not required. However applicants should still consider how they will or might achieve impact outside the scientific community and include this as part of their case for support.

Impact activities do not have to be cost-incurring, but relevant costs can be included and must be fully justified within the justification of resources statement.

NERC responsible business statement

Through our funding processes, we seek to make a positive contribution to society and the environment. This is not just through research outputs and outcomes but through the way in which research is conducted and facilities managed.

All NERC grant holders are to adopt responsible research practices as set-out in the NERC responsible business statement.

Responsible research is defined as reducing harm or enhancing benefit on the environment and society through effective management of research activities and facilities. Specifically, this covers:

  • the natural environment
  • the local community
  • diversity and inclusion

Grant holders should consider responsible research context of their project, not the host institution as a whole, and take action to enhance their responsible research approach where practical and reasonable.

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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