Official go-ahead for FAIR

Hesse’s environment minister issues approval under radiation protection legislation

Minister Lucia Puttrich and FAIR Research Director Professor Günther Rosner

Lucia Puttrich, Environment Minister in the German state of Hesse, has announced initial partial approval under radiation protection legislation for the construction of the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Europe (FAIR) in Darmstadt. Together with Professor Günther Rosner, Research & Administrative Managing Director of FAIR, she thereby gave the go-ahead for what is currently one of the largest research projects worldwide. “The approval underscores the regional government’s commitment to Hesse as a location for research and innovation,” said Puttrich. At the same time, the minister was briefed on the extensive environmental measures that are being undertaken to counteract the impact of the construction work.

The new international accelerator facility FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Europe) is to be built on an approximately 20-hectare site in the immediate vicinity of GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung, in Darmstadt. FAIR, which will be used for both fundamental physics and applied research, will make use of the existing GSI accelerators as preaccelerators. Due to open in 2018, the facility will provide an opportunity for more than 3,000 scientists from over 50 countries to investigate the basic building blocks of matter and the origins of the universe. FAIR will be able to produce highly precise and exceptionally intense beams of antiprotons and ions from the full range of elements. This in turn will enable scientists to study extremely rare particle-collision products. Further areas of investigation include atomic and plasma physics, antimatter research, the further development of cancer therapy with ion beams, and research into materials for applications such as space missions.


“FAIR will enable an unprecedented range of experiments, through which physicists from around the world hope to gain new insights into the structure of matter and the evolution of the universe, from the Big Bang to the present day,” said Puttrich during her visit to the construction site of the new accelerator facility. She also explained that the Ministry of Environment, as the body responsible for radiation protection, has been involved in the approval process on account of the fact that FAIR will generate radiation fields during its operation.

Professor Günther Rosner, Research & Administrative Managing Director of FAIR, said: “Many scientists from around the world are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to get started on pressing research projects at FAIR. We’re delighted to have now received the initial go-head for construction from Hesse’s Ministry of Environment. We’re especially concerned to respect the needs of nature and the environment during execution of this major project.”


The construction of FAIR is projected to cost €1.6 billion (2018 price levels) and is being financed by Germany’s Federal Government and the State of Hesse together with nine countries in Europe and beyond.


Extensive measures are being undertaken in parallel to the construction work in order to counteract the environmental impact of the project. For example, a special fence is currently being erected to prevent frogs and toads gaining access to the construction site and access road. Other measures include substantial reforestation in Darmstadt and surrounding areas, the creation of a habitat for lizards, the development of a long-term conservation plan for the natural landmark Stahlberge, and the installation of 130 boxes for bats as alternative accommodation to the north of the new facility.


The approval of the buildings under radiation protection legislation ensures that the buildings will meet the safety requirements for the scientists and technicians working at the facility and for the surrounding environment right from the planning stage.

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