The department has allocated £30.07 million for environmental protection research in 1996/97; £8.35 million of this is for new work. This is in addition to research funded directly by the Environment Agency.
The objective of the research programme is to provide the scientific data to underpin the department's development of environmental policy and statutory duties; a substantial part of the programme is for long term monitoring of the state of the environment. The work is dominated by the need to ensure that environmental commitments at national, European and international levels are based on sound science. The programme is closely coordinated with the work of the research councils, other government bodies, and the countryside agencies.
Announcing the new allocation, Mr Clappison said:
'Increased emphasis is being given to research that supports the current formulation of an air quality strategy and monitors air quality standards. The research programme seeks not only to assess the current air quality with respect to these standards, but also to assess the ability to achieve such standards with current policies.
'The research programme is also designed to support the development of policy on contaminated land. It will underpin the new legislative regime to deal with threats to the environment from contaminated land and is intended to provide the technical basis for the new Environment Agency responsibilities in this area. The work assists the government's objective of bringing such land back into beneficial use.
'Further research should also ensure the effective operation of the New Chemicals Notification Scheme and limit the environmental damage caused by pesticides. Another major element of the programme should provide the scientific knowledge required to design proper controls on the release of genetically modified organisms.'