The European Agency has confirmed it will open a new research centre in Oxfordshire with the creation of up to 5,000 jobs.

The new centre will be built at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, near Didcot, and has been welcomed as a boost to the local economy.

It will focus on researching space robotics and climate change with a new laboraty.

Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, director of science parks at Goodman, the firm which will develop the site, said: “This is a hugely significant announcement underlining the credentials of Harwell and the UK as a world-class location for science and innovation.

“We are confident that alongside our joint venture partners, we have the skills and experience to attract further high-calibre customers to Harwell, where we can foster collaboration between businesses, research organisations and academia.”

Lord Drayson, Minister of State for Science and Innovation, said: “It is the Government’s priority, particularly in the current economic climate, to ensure the most out of every pound we invest in the European Space Agency.

“This is why we haveselected the areas and programmes where the UK can compete and grow most effectively.

“Historically, the UK has made smart investments in robotics and microsatellites and this has enabled us to develop world-class leads in these areas.”