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Crisis day for environment scientists

[Wednesday 08 March 2006]

A CRISIS meeting of some of the Government's top scientists will today discuss plans to sack dozens of experts searching for ways to slow-down damaging changes in the environment - plans described one of the country's leading pressure groups as "blinding ourselves" in our efforts to protect the countryside and its wildlife.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is due to meet to consider Government proposals to close research field stations based around the country and sack dozens of scientists whose job is to detect harmful changes in the environment and come up with advice how to either prevent them or to slow down their harmful effects.

IN an angry press release from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, rural policy chief Tom Oliver declared: "Let no-one be in any doubt: making these cuts would be tantamount to blinding ourselves to ecological change,

"The names of these threatened field centres are a roll-call of scientific excellence, renowned across the world for the quality of their ecological understanding. The only responsible action is to abandon the reckless and ill-informed surgery to the teams and laboratories.

"We will be scrutinising the decision-making process of NERC very carefully. The key question is: 'Do the NERC governing body understand that this sort of long-term research cannot be taken on by universities and that it will just be lost if they stick to their ill-conceived plan?' We urge them to see sense and act responsibly at this late hour."

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