The observatory employs 115 staff to provide technical support for the UK's overseas telescopes. Some of these staff will transfer to the new Astronomical Technology Centre, which is part of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. Others will take up positions at the University of Cambridge and Liverpool John Moore's University. Some staff will be made redundant.

The closure follows a decline in funding for ground-based astronomy. PPARC had earlier rejected a proposed management buy-out of the observatory, and hopes that the University of Cambridge might buy the centre have faded.

PPARC also announced that the UK will participate in a new solar science mission with Japan, Solar-B, which is due for launch in 2004. It also confirmed the UK's participation in the general-purpose detectors, ATLAS and CMS, for the Large Hadron Collider. The collider will be built at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory, ready to start experiments in 2005.