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Science Minister backs plan for European weather centre

Colour photograph of University of Reading Vice Chancellor

The UK science minister has backed plans to bring a major European science centre to the University of Reading's Whiteknights campus.

In a visit on Friday 18 October, Chris Skidmore MP expressed the UK government's commitment to build a new headquarters for the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) on the University's main campus.

ECMWF is currently assessing plans to relocate from its existing location elsewhere in Reading, from which it already works closely with Reading researchers.

Mr Skidmore said he was absolutely committed that the new climate science hub should be part of the "crown jewels" of British science.

"When it comes to the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts, I am determined to make sure that we can allow Reading University to become the world-leading centre for climate science.

"The proposals themselves are incredibly exciting, and if they get given the go-ahead I think we have the largest number of climate scientists potentially in one single location in the world. I would love to be able to see that happen as science minister."

'I am determined to make sure that we can allow Reading University to become the world-leading centre for climate science' - Chris Skidmore MP

University of Reading Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Van de Noort, said: "Here at Reading, we are working tirelessly on solving some of the most pressing problems facing the world today. Global challenges like climate change require global partnerships to find solutions. I welcome the Minister's recognition of Reading's pre-eminence in the field of climate science and for reaffirming the Government's commitment to our critical partnership with ECMWF."

The Minister of State for Universities, Science Research and Innovation was visiting Reading to learn about the University's world leading position as a centre for the study of weather and climate.

He spoke to staff and students after meeting climate, weather and environmental scientists. Later, the minister was given a tour of the University's new £55 million Life Sciences Building, due to open next year to house the School of Biological Sciences and the Cole Museum of Zoology.

Mr Skidmore also launched a weather balloon with experts from Reading's Department of Meteorology. The data from the flight will help to provide a more accurate forecast for the weekend's weather.

Speaking the day before a critical House of Commons vote on the government's Brexit agreement, Mr Skidmore said: "I am determined to ensure that when it comes to our continuing involvement with the European Union, that we maintain the status quo, that we look at our continued association into the science and research programmes, but we make sure that we are making the case internationally as well for the UK retaining its world leading status in climate science."

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