Kielder Observatory granted almost £25,000 in 'astro tourism' boost

By James Harrison

‘Astro tourism’ in Northumberland is in line for a boost thanks to a cash grant from county bosses.

Kielder Observatory is in line for almost £25,000 from Northumberland County Council to fund the installation of a new radio telescope.

It is hoped the addition will improve access to courses on subjects such as astronomy and astrobiology, with the technology allowing facilities to be accessed without having to be on site.

Read more: Go here to see more Northumberland stories

And it has been predicted the scheme could offer opportunities to 10,000 pupils from across Northumberland over its first three years.

“I want to extol the virtues of the Kielder Observatory and the dark skies project,” said John Riddle, county councillor for Bellingham and cabinet member for Local Services.

“This was England's first ‘dark sky’ designated area, it's one of the largest dark sky areas in Europe and it's actually at the gold standard.

“It's great for educational purposes, the outreach will be fantastic and it's also a very good tourist attraction, open almost every day of the year now, [which] was never envisaged when it first started.

“It's a great success story.”

The county council’s ruling cabinet agreed a contribution of £24,596 to the project.

A further £43,740 is being provided by the observatory itself with the bulk of funding, £93,000, provided by the Tanlaw Foundation, an education charity working in the UK and Singapore.

Catherine Johns, CEO of Kielder Observatory, said the scheme would "democratise access to radio telescopes so anyone can contribute to citizen science projects and academic research".

Planning permission to install the proposed five-metre-diameter, Spider 500 radio telescope was granted in August last year.

Council bosses also agree to underwrite a loan to install eco-friendly lighting at Blyth’s Horton Grange Primary School.

According to a report for the ruling cabinet, the school’s application to the Government’s Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund to cover the costs of installing energy-efficient LEDs was turned down.

But local authority chiefs agreed its ‘solid financial position’ meant they were happy to support a five-year interest-free loan under the Salix Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme.

For the latest local news in your area direct to your inbox every day, go here to sign up to our free newsletter


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.