Boost for Cheshire East as Jodrell Bank chosen as HQ for world’s largest telescope

April 30, 2015

Jodrell Bank has been chosen as the headquarters of the world’s largest radio telescope, creating a huge economic boost for Cheshire East. 

The famous observatory will remain at the forefront of global scientific research for another 50 years after members of the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project expressed their preference for the site, near Goostrey. 

The SKA telescope, said to be capable of looking all the way back to the aftermath of the Big Bang, will spread across two continents and comprise 2,500 dishes and one million antennae.

It is estimated to be worth £1billion in private sector investment and will help to secure an additional 200 jobs on the site. 

The news comes days after Cheshire East Council agreed to invest £1m in Jodrell Bank as part of a support package that will focus on connectivity and asset enhancement. 

Caroline Simpson, the Council’s executive director for economic growth and prosperity, said: “This is a real statement of confidence in scientific research in Britain and also in Cheshire East. 

“The Council believes this will lead to further opportunities in the Cheshire and Manchester region and the Council has set out a clear action plan to develop the technology and science corridor in the area. Jodrell Bank plays a key part in this plan. 

“We will continue to work closely with partners across the Manchester city region to develop the site’s record in hosting world-class science and visitor activities.” 

Professor Stephen Watts, Head of the School of Physics & Astronomy at The University of Manchester, added: “This is great news for Jodrell Bank. Not only will it mean cutting-edge science will continue to be carried out at the site for the foreseeable future but it will also help inspire the thousands of children who visit here every year from schools across the country. 

“It is a great honour to be chosen as the headquarters of the largest telescope ever built.” 

Members of the SKA partnership were invited to bid to host the headquarters in 2014. Two bids were received, from Italy and the United Kingdom, both of which were judged to be excellent and suitable for the project’s needs. After consideration, the members expressed their preference for the Jodrell Bank site. 

The plan, backed by Cheshire East Council, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the University of Manchester and Oxford and Cambridge Universities, envisages designing and constructing a unique campus for one of the most inspirational science projects of the 21st Century. 

The headquarters will be constructed to meet the needs of the SKA project and there is space to grow if the project requires it in the future.