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Strasbourg deal could spell good news for Culham

Scientists today welcomed a European Parliament decision to plough 1.3 billion Euros (£1.1bn) into key nuclear fusion research and engineering.

key_cbhappy.pngThe move is expected to have a positive impact on Europe's key JET nuclear fusion research facility at Culham Science Centre.

Several hundred jobs in South Oxfordshire could be secure following the decision to support ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor).

JET is a key driving force behind ITER, which pulls together scientists from around the world to prove nuclear fusion can be used as an energy source.

Dr Francesco Romanelli, EFDA (European Fusion Development Agreement) Associate Leader for JET, said: "This paves the way for JET to continue its vital work in support of ITER."

There were fears funding would dry up in January, but a deal between the European Council and Parliament will now see money secured until 2014.

Liberal Democrat South East MEP Catherine Bearder voted in favour of the deal at Strasbourg today.

She said: "This is good news and will hopefully mean jobs are secure while important research into this alternative energy source continues at Culham.

"But it is not just about funding... today means we also keep research and training for young engineers right here in Oxfordshire."

Professor Steve Cowley, chief executive at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, said it was positive news for future research.

He said: "Resolving funding for 2012-2013 is great news for the future of the world's energy provision. I can't wait to see ITER up and running in 2020."

The money will come from shuffling funds with some of cash shifted from unspent EU agriculture and administrative budgets.

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