THE futures of more than 500 staff at a major south Oxfordshire science campus have been secured by a contract worth at least €100m.

A contract extension for the world’s largest fusion research facility, Joint European Torus (JET), operated at the UK Atomic Energy Authority at Culham Science Centre, was signed by the UK and the European Commission today.

The agreement will see at least €100m in additional investment from the EU pumped into JET over the next two years.

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Scientists from 28 European countries use the facility to conduct research in the latest technologies aimed at providing clean, safe, inexhaustible energy.

Science minister, Chris Skidmore, said: “Having made my first speech at Culham, I know how hardworking and dedicated UK Atomic Energy Authority staff are, which is why I’m pleased to announce today’s agreement, which is great news for the future of scientific research in Oxfordshire, the UK and Europe.

“Extending this contract means cutting-edge and world-leading fusion research can continue in this country, which I know will be a welcome reassurance to the hundreds of workers at Culham."

JET's work is covered by the Euratom Treaty, which the government plans to leave when the UK exits the EU.

Its future has been in the balance since 2017, but the contract guarantees its operations until the end of 2020, regardless of the Brexit situation.

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Ian Chapman, CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, said: “The extension to the contract is excellent news for both EU and UK science.

"JET has been a shining example of scientific co-operation between EU members, and this news means that these mutually beneficial collaborations will continue, allowing us to do essential experiments on the path to delivering fusion power."

Tony Donné, Programme Manager of EUROfusion, added: “A heavy weight has been lifted off our shoulders.

"This is extraordinarily good news for EUROfusion and the European fusion community as a whole.

"We can now continue to work on the realisation of fusion energy together with the indispensable experience of our British partner.”