Physics research to face 'savage' cuts

(First Edition)

PHYSICS research in Britain faces 'savage' cuts destroying multi-million pound scientific programmes under proposals to meet government spending limits, writes Susan Watts.

Three main research programmes face cuts under the scheme, which plans for possible cuts of up to 6 per cent of research council budgets beyond 1993-94.

Physicists say their budgets have already been pared to the bone. They fear that important projects may go because they are easier to cut than numerous smaller chemistry or biology experiments.

Last December, the Advisory Board for the Research Councils, the Government's science advisers, asked all four research councils to 'prioritise' their work. In March, the board will compare the submissions. Sir David Phillips, chairman of the board, emphasised that no decisions had yet been taken.

The projects affected would be the pounds 6m nuclear structure physics research programme. Dr Alun Jones, chief executive of the Institute of Physics, said: 'This will mean the end of experimental nuclear physics in this country.'

The second area under threat is British participation in the X-ray Multi-Mirror space mission. This is a main plank of British involvement in the European Space Agency - expected to total about pounds 20m to the end of the decade.

The final project at risk is the Vulcan high-energy laser facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire. The facility is currently investigating nuclear fusion energy.

Science, page 16

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