HC Deb 19 May 1993 vol 225 cc157-8W
Dr. Twinn

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans he has to complete the restructuring of the British Antarctic Survey; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Robert Jackson

As part of the allocations of the science budget announced on 10 February, some £4 million over three years up to 1995–96 has been allocated to the Natural Environment Research Council towards the completion of the restructuring of the British Antarctic Survey's facilities in Antarctica. This will increase the opportunities for visiting scientists from our higher education institutions and will facilitate international collaboration.

Over the past decade, the survey has undertaken a major capital replacement programme. It has rebuilt the Halley station as a centre for geospace and atmospheric research, including ozone destruction. It has replaced one of its two ships by a purpose-built dual research and logistics vessel, the RRS James Clark Ross, and it has greatly enhanced the air facilities at its Rothera station by the construction of a hard airstrip, the purchase of two further Twin Otters and a longer range DHC7 aircraft, which will improve access at the start of the Antarctic season.

It will now consolidate its marine biology work from the RRS James Clark Ross and at Rothera, where new facilities will be built for biological research. Automated data collection systems will be developed and introduced to Faraday, which will remain as an unmanned station from 1995–96, and to the Signy station, where the present outdated accommodation will be replaced with modern facilities to support biological research during the austral summer.

A proportion of the funds will also be used to clean up abandoned former British bases in Antarctica, a requirement under the 1991 environmental protocol to the Antarctic treaty.