Defra seeks private partners to help fund Fera

Fera's Sand Hutton, North Yorkshire headquarters - image:Defra
Fera's Sand Hutton, North Yorkshire headquarters - image:Defra

Defra has begun what it calls a "market sounding exercise" to explore possible private sector partnerships with its Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera).

Currently 75 per cent of the North Yorkshire-based agency's revenue comes from central government, but Defra will now explore "whether to bring in a partner or partners which will commit a financial stake in Fera's future and with expertise to enable its non-government revenue to grow".

It stressed that "key teams" including the Bee Health Inspectors and the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate will remain inside government.

"Defra will also retain the necessary level of control to ensure that Fera continues to be able to respond to emergency situations such as a major plant health or food incident," it added.

Environment minister Lord de Mauley said: "By asking the market for their views on a joint venture I am confident that we can find an option that protects our scientific capability while also giving the business long-term security."

Fera chief executive Adrian Belton added: "With government budgets facing on-going reductions it is imperative that we take action now to examine options which will help protect and enhance Fera's renowned scientific capability."


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