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MP backs call to save local Lovell Telescope

March 12, 2008 5:31 PM
Jodrell Bank

The Lovell telescope - a famous landmark

In response to the announcement that the Science and Technology Funding Council (STFC) are proposing to cut its annual £2 million funding for Jodrell Bank's leading participation in the eMerlin project, this week Mark Hunter MP for the Cheadle constituency, co-sponsored two Early Day Motions in the House of Commons which calls for the (STFC) to rethink their proposal.

Jodrell Bank is a world-renowned centre for astrophysics based in Manchester, which includes the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire where the internationally renowned and landmark Lovell Telescope is based. Not only does the observatory provide learning, research and teaching for engineers, astronomers and students, but it is an important learning centre for local visitors including many schools.

The EDMs were tabled by local MPs Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield) and Paul Rowen (Rochdale), and supported by MPs from all parties. The motions call for the STFC to rethink their proposal fearing that the closure of the eMerlin project would threaten the future of the celebrated Jodrell Bank Observatory and the Lovell Telescope which just celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Mr Hunter, speaking about the issue said, "Jodrell Bank is really threatened by the proposal from the STFC to cut the £2 million funding for the eMerlin project. The STFC should take into consideration the key role that Jodrell Bank take in the scientific community of the North West, the UK and the world.

If Jodrell Bank were to have to close not only would Cheshire lose a famous landmark but it would also lose the world class research teams that have carried out acclaimed work in the area of radio astronomy for the last 50 years, and continue to do so today. We should be very proud of this local institute which has an international reputation for leading cutting-edge research into meteors, pulsars, quasars and other areas of radio astronomy.

It would be a tragedy if Jodrell Bank had to close due to lack of funding and I very much hope that the STFC will rethink this disastrous plan."