CaSE exposes impact of science cuts at Isis

CaSE has revealed how a £3.4m shortfall in funding is putting the Isis neutron source, a £400m world-leading facility, out of action for 60 days a year. The situation is akin to Manchester United building a £400m stadium which they then can’t play in because they can’t afford to turn the lights on.

The loss in scientific capacity at Isis is one of the earliest consequences of the cuts to the science budget, which will become more prevalent over the coming years.

Using FoI data obtained by CaSE, the Guardian have published a news story about the consequences for everything from clean energy to biotechnology research.

CaSE Director Imran Khan said:

“Isis is geared up to operate for 180 days a year, but a lack of funds means it’s only going to be online for 120 days in 2011/12.”


“The facility is a great example of how the UK’s world-leading research is not only sowing the seeds of tomorrow’s technology, but contributing to our economy right now.”


“It is a major draw for the kind of high-tech companies which the UK needs to attract if we’re going to rebalance the economy towards technology and manufacturing – which makes it all the more disappointing that under-funding of UK science and engineering is resulting in this kind of inefficiency. It’s a real waste of potential.”


“If scientists and engineers have concerns about similar inefficiencies or impacts of cuts, do get in touch with us – we’re keen to show that scaling back support for R&D is ultimately counter-productive.”


The FoI data is as follows:

The total capital cost of the ISIS facility:
The current gross replacement cost for ISIS is £400M; this is the integrated cost for the original accelerator and first target station plus the recent investment of £140M in the second target station.

The operating (resource) cost – this year:
The resource operating cost for FY 11/12 is £28M; in addition, we use a further £9M of operational capital (equivalent to resource, but because of Treasury accounting rules, this appears as capital). With efficient management this will deliver 120 days of user operation.

The current number of days it’s running is and the optimal number of days it should run:
In this Financial Year, ISIS will operate for 120 days of user operation; ISIS is geared up to operate for 180 days per year.

How much an additional 30 day cycle would cost:
An additional cycle of 30 days costs £1.7M

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One Comment

  1. Posted 28/11/2011 at 15:48 | Permalink

    All quite worrying, to be sure, but isn’t most of the picture actually Diamond Light, rather than ISIS?

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