Official opening of the SKA’s Global HQ

It’s an exciting week for two of our neighbours; today the Global HQ of The SKA (Square Kilometre Array) officially opens in the grounds of JBO……hot on the heels of Jodrell Bank Observatory gaining UNESCO World Heritage status. (With bluedot Festival next week)h

Close to 200 guests attended the event including representatives from across the SKA’s many partner countries. The event included a ceremonial handover, with a commemorative key made from an original panel from the Lovell – the key having an etching on it of a trace taken on the Lovell of the first pulsar co-discovered by Prof. Dame Jocelyn Burnell, the renowned astrophysicist Prof. Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who gave the keynote speech.

Panoramic view of the completed SKA GHQ at Jodrell Bank. Credit: SKAO/Juande Santander-Vela

‘Operated by a partnership of countries from across the world, the GHQ will be the home of the SKA Observatory, only the second intergovernmental organisation to be dedicated to astronomy in the world. It will eventually house up to 150 international staff leading the SKA project and allow to remotely monitor the status of the SKA telescopes 24/7 from its Operations Monitoring Centre. Considered a nexus for astrophysics in the 21st century, the facility will facilitate a global collaboration in radio astronomy, receiving prestigious international visitors and experts.

The SKA project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by the SKA Organisation – soon to become the SKA Observatory. The SKA telescopes will be constructed in Australia and South Africa; with a later expansion in both countries and into other African countries. It will address fundamental gaps in our understanding of the Universe.

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area. The scale of the SKA represents a huge leap forward in both engineering and research & development towards building and delivering a unique instrument, with the detailed design and preparation now well under way. As one of the largest scientific endeavours in history, the SKA will bring together a wealth of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers to bring the project to fruition.

Unprecedented Scale

The SKA will eventually use thousands of dishes and up to a million low-frequency antennas that will enable astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey the entire sky much faster than any system currently in existence.

Its unique configuration will give the SKA unrivalled scope in observations, largely exceeding the image resolution quality of the Hubble Space Telescope.

It will also have the ability to image huge areas of sky in parallel a feat which no survey telescope has ever achieved on this scale with this level of sensitivity. With a range of other large telescopes in the optical and infra-red being built and launched into space over the coming decades, the SKA will perfectly augment, complement and lead the way in scientific discovery.’ More….SKA organisation

Jodrell Bank Observatory added to World Heritage List

Congratulations to Professors Teresa Anderson and Tim O’Brien! They are currently in Baku and will now no doubt be celebrating with their team as JBO has just been inscribed as a World Heritage Site!

The chairperson thanked for the “massive expression of support”, comments made included “impressive nomination”, “inspiration”, “protecting scientific knowledge”.

Full details on UNESCO press release:

“Outstanding universal value”


“Congratulations to Jodrell Bank UNESCO World Heritage Site!

The recognition by UNESCO of the outstanding universal value of Jodrell Bank, a University of Manchester body, symbolises the UK’s and its universities’, engineers’, educators’ and scientists’ role both in contributing to the foundations and cutting edge of science and engineering in the past and a how they, as part of a global community, will build on this legacy in the future”.

(Photos from the live feed showing Prof Anderson thanking UNESCO and all at JBO)

Decision on World Heritage Site for JBO later this week

Journey to Baku (……& the World Heritage Committee)

JBO’s Professor Teresa Anderson:

“Early in July this year, we are off to Baku to attend the 2019 World Heritage Committee meeting – because this year, in July, in Baku, the World Heritage Committee will formally consider the nomination of Jodrell Bank for inscription on the World Heritage list.

Photo credit: Ant Holloway

It’s a journey of 2, 500 miles, but will seem short to us, given that we have spent almost 10 years working towards this point.

The first step on the journey was the application, in 2010, for Jodrell Bank Observatory to be included on the UK’s national shortlist for World Heritage site nomination (known as the ‘Tentative List’).

To our delight, in 2011 the application was successful, despite the fact that it was our first engagement with the World Heritage themes and processes.

In the UK, the government (via the Department of Culture, Media, Sport and Digital – DCMS) regularly assesses whether any of the sites on the shortlistare ready to go forward for ‘Nomination’ to UNESCO. In order to be considered, sites have to submit a ‘Technical Assessment’ to the UK’s Assessment Panel. We have done this three times since 2010, and as we went through the process, we learned more and more, not only about the application process, but also about the history and heritage of Jodrell Bank. New images and stories appeared, as well as more and more information about the site itself.

Finally, we were very pleased to hear, in the summer of 2017, that we had been successful and that Jodrell Bank had been selected by the Assessment Panel as the UK’s next candidate for nomination to UNESCO.

The more challenging thing to hear, at this point, was that DCMS and Historic England had decided that the application should be submitted in January 2018, so that the case could be considered in July 2019.

That meant that we had less than 6 months to prepare the huge Nomination Dossier that is required, which includes Comparative Studies of similar sites worldwide, the development of a full Management Plan in collaboration with everyone connected to the site, and the writing of the main nomination document itself.

Six months of very hard work followed. We spent every weekend and evening working on it (thankfully we are married to each other, so were both in the same house). We let ourselves take a day off on Christmas Day and on New Year’s day, but otherwise just worked solidly, (around our dining table…) until we got it done.

We had help from a few lovely people on the way (thank you Henry, Christopher, Karl and Enid) and managed to get our Nomination Dossierfinished and beautifully designed (thank you David) and printed in time for the deadline.

A long process of independent assessment followed – including academic reviews of all the documents we prepared by ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites), a site visit by an ICOMOS inspector and an interview with an ICOMOS Expert Panel.

And now we are off to Baku …. to find out what they all thought!

Wish us luck!”

Teresa Anderson & Tim O’Brien

Sand Quarry approved by Cheshire West

Plans for the Sibelco sand quarry on land at Rudheath Lodge, New Platt Lane were approved today by Cheshire West & Chester. The proposal had previously been approved on April 4th by Cheshire East’s strategic planning board.   (new info from the Environment Agency wasn’t discussed at the meeting but if the EA change their original ‘no objection’ then it will be referred back to planning).

Cheshire East are to meet again to review the new documents but it seems doubtful that they are allowed to alter their original vote.

and 17/03104/MIN Cheshire West and Chester)

Amongst others Goostrey’s Cllr Ken Morris spoke against the application over concerns about fugitive silica dust as well as pointing out that the stated Condition by Jodrell Bank Observatory for the site to not exceed the ITU threshold cannot possibly be enforced.  Especially when Sibelco say the site already exceeds it (before driver’s mobiles etc).  JBO have been given a draft scheme by Sibelco and will have to sign off on it before plans can go ahead.

In regard to water levels of nearby New Platt Mere dropping; CWaC stated that work would stop if water levels dropped to a certain level, and only resume once they had risen again.

Sand Quarry 8th Jan

Decision date 8th Jan


Sand Quarry comments extended due to new documents

Although CEC’s Strategic Planning Board voted earlier this year to approve the part of Sibelco’s planning application which is in Cheshire East, the decision has not yet been confirmed and an approval letter has not yet been issued. Residents now have the opportunity to submit further comments due to additional information, see below, up  until the 3rd January 2019. (Original comments are still relevant)

The application has not yet been considered by Cheshire West and now new objections have been raised by Garnett Farms.  They put the case that the water table in the area will be lowered if the Quarry goes ahead; in particular the water level in New Platt Mere would drop.  This has resulted in a number of new technical documents between the Environment Agency, Sibelco and others – which can be found on the following link to Cheshire West website under 17/03104/MIN. 

The Sibelco rebuttals (but not the other documents) have appeared on the Cheshire East planning website in the last few days and are open to public consultation with a closing date of 3rd January 2019, the planning application number is 17/3605W.   (click link).

After a number of re-schedulings the latest date for the Cheshire West Planning Committee is 8th January 2019.

Interestingly Cheshire West have also published a document from Sibelco entitled ‘Electromagnetic Compatibility Scheme’  which shows that the background level of radio emissions are higher than those specified by JBO, even before any works are started.  Although Sibelco have asked for a response from JBO, there is nothing showing on either CEC or CW&C websites.

Quarry location

Location of sand quarry