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Issue 482, 20 May 2002

Yorkshire bid for £1bn science project

A £1billion European science project could be based in Yorkshire, if a bid to host the world's largest neutron scattering research facility is successful.

The bid – by the White Rose universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York, supported by Yorkshire Forward – was launched in Leeds last week. The centre would be sited at the former Burn airfield near Selby.

The Yorkshire ESS (YESS) project would be a major research centre for physics, chemistry, biology, materials, earth and engineering sciences. It would generate over 3,000 jobs in the construction sector, employ around 1,000 scientists, technicians and support staff and help to attract more high tech companies to Yorkshire and up to 5,000 visitors to the site each year.

Leeds physics professor and co-coordinator of the bid Professor Bob Cywinski said: "Neutron scattering, or spallation, allows scientists to study, at a molecular level, materials that make up the physical and biological world, to see what the atoms are doing and how they behave. The ESS service will be on a par with what the Hubble telescope has done for astronomers – a  'matterscope' providing much deeper insights into materials than previously possible.

"Europe has led the world in the field of neutron scattering for three decades but we are about to lose that lead to the USA and Japan who are building their own spallation sources," he added. "The development of the European spallation source will keep us at the cutting edge."

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