New synchrotron will be built at Rutherford
Mar 13, 2000
The UK government announced today that a new third-generation synchrotron radiation source, previously known as DIAMOND, would be built at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire. The synchrotron will be a joint venture between the UK and French governments and the Wellcome Trust, the world's largest biomedical research charity. The DIAMOND at Daresbury campaign, which had hoped to persuade the government to build the machine at the Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire, home of the UK's current synchrotron source, said the decision was "disastrous and irrational." To lessen the impact of the DIAMOND decision, the government also announced a package of measures to support science at Daresbury and the surrounding regions.
Construction of the new synchrotron is expected to take about five years, and it will cost about £550 m to build and operate the machine over its 20 year lifetime. The Wellcome Trust will contribute about £100 m of the total cost. The Daresbury synchrotron will continue to operate for two years after the new machine comes into operation, and the government will invest £5 m in four new beamlines. The government has also set up a review team to "consider options for capitalising on the strengths of the science base in the North West to ensure its continuing excellence, including potential future uses for the Daresbury Laboratory site and its assets." The government has promised to provide at least £25m to fund the recommendations of the review team, which will report in September, and is also funding a feasibility for a new biotechnology facility in the North West.
The location of the new synchrotron source has been mired in controversy since it emerged that the government wanted to build it at Rutherford rather than Daresbury. Both the Wellcome Trust and the French government – which joined the project after Soleil, its own third-generation synchrotron source, was cancelled - apparently preferred Rutherford based on advice from the UK government. The Wellcome Trust is also believed to have threatened to pull out of the project if Rutherford was not chosen as the site.
Susan Smith, leader of the Diamond at Daresbury campaign, was dismayed over the decision. "Not one bit of evidence in favour of Rutherford has ever been made public," she said. She warned that the low morale at Daresbury may now cause staff to leave.