Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Birthday Party

Two years ago today, the Environment, Planning and Countryside Committee of the National Assembly for Wales took evidence from various bodies concerned about the continuation of the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research at Aberystwyth, which was thought to be under some threat. I was the Committee Chair at the time. So Assembly Minister, Elin Jones, who was a Committee Member, and a speaker at tonight's event, reminded us that tonight was a sort of 'birthday party'. Even our Committee Clerk, Kathryn Jenkins was there. Our conclusion two years ago was that we wanted IGER to merge with Aberystwyth University rather than horizontally with other research stations outside of Wales. We felt that this would be the most likely way to ensure that Wales retained this outstanding research base in the long term.

Reason I mention all this, is that tonight's event in the National Assembly was a celebration of the establishment of the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS), a successor to IGER. Its roughly what the EPC Committee envisaged two years ago - a major new institute, within the University. 300 staff. Largest group of specialist scientists working in this field in the UK. Start up investment of over £50 million. Income of £20 million a year. Close links with the School of Natural Sciences at Bangor. Amongst the speakers were Aberystwyth Vice-Chancellor Noel Lloyd, IGER'S old director, Chris Pollock, and IBERS' Director Designate, Wayne Powell. The event reeked of potential and promise. All quite satisfying. Very pleased I went.

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