Three-year plan for UK science

Materials World magazine
1 Aug 2008

The UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) announced its three-year investment plan, worth nearly £2bln at a meeting on 8 July 2008 at the Royal Society, London, UK.

The areas receiving financial support include the ISIS Target Station 2, which will be given £140m for beamlines, and the Diamond Light Source, which will get £260m for 14 new beamlines. Both are located at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford, UK.

The Linac Coherent Light Source in Stanford, USA, will also receive a possible contribution of £1-2m, and the STFC has established a new funding line of £1m a year for advanced detector research at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland. It is also hoping to develop a new light source in the UK, for which a proposal will be ready by summer 2009.

Research areas that are being dropped include several physics projects, such as the Birmingham Solar Oscillations Network. ‘We will also be withdrawing funding and reducing staff in labs,’ said John Womersley, Director of the STFC’s Science Programmes, adding, ‘this is what happens when you have a finite budget’.

Responding to concerns that the STFC has reduced support for nuclear physics by 40%, the Council issued a statement noting that its remit is on nuclear astrophysics, not nuclear power or engineering, and that it has simply adjusted the distribution of funds for this field, without dramatically lowering it.

The Council’s budget decision was based on recommendations from the Particle Physics, Astronomy and Nuclear advisory panel, and the Physical and Life Sciences panel, who themselves heard from 10 independent science panels and 1,400 individual responses.

Further information: Science and Technology Facilities Council