STFC puts Merlin radio-telescope network on cuts list

March 6, 2008

The Science and Technology Facilities Council has released a draft list of research projects and facilities that its science committees are resigned to seeing cut.

As part of the latest efforts by the council to accommodate an £80 million budget shortfall and create an extra £40 million in savings to put towards priority projects, the STFC has listed 29 projects that it says are a “lower priority” in the battle for funding.

Among them are the Merlin UK-wide network of radio telescopes and upgrades to the French-based neutron source used by UK researchers, the Institut Laue-Langevin.

A “high-priority” stamp has been given to 19 projects, including the operation of the Diamond light source. A further 39 have been classed as medium priority.

Researchers have three weeks to comment on the draft list before it goes to the STFC executive to make final decisions about resources.

Sir Peter Knight, chairman of the STFC’s science board, said: “It is very hard for any of us to know where the lines [for cuts] will be drawn. I would expect a fight to the death for those projects [on the high-priority list],” he said.

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