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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
Animal laboratory 'should go ahead'
Animal rights demonstration outside Huntingdon research lab, PA
Animal rights protesters at Huntingdon Life Sciences
Plans for a controversial new animal research laboratory in Cambridge have received support from the UK Government's chief scientist.

Planning permission for the laboratory at Girton on the city outskirts was turned down in February.

Cambridgeshire police said the cost of policing animal rights protests would be too high.

But the government's chief scientist David King has stepped in, lending weight to Cambridge University's appeal against the decision.


A decision to refuse the application would have a deeply damaging effect

Cambridge University
Professor King said it would be unacceptable if Cambridge University was unable to build the new laboratory in the city, though not necessarily at Girton.

South Cambridgeshire District Council rejected the plans amid concerns that testing on animals would attract protests like those staged outside the Huntingdon Life Sciences.

A spokesman said it could not guarantee public safety or afford the cost of policing protests at the laboratory, which would use monkeys for testing.

Last year, Cambridgeshire police spent 2m policing animal rights demonstrations.

Professor King told the BBC that funding would be found for a new laboratory in Cambridge researching neural diseases.

Alzheimer's research

In a statement, the university said: "It's good to know that the government supports so strongly the work scientists are doing to ease human suffering.

"The university remains convinced that this project is vital, and the best site is Huntingdon road.

"A decision to refuse the application would have a deeply damaging effect on the ongoing search for alleviation of life-threatening diseases, and potentially on the pharmaceutical industry of this country."

In February the council's decision to block the plan was described by the university as "deeply damaging".

A spokeswoman said research into such conditions as Alzheimer's, autism and Parkinson's disease would be set back because of the authority's decision.

Professor David King was Master of Downing College, Cambridge, and head of the university's chemistry department when he was brought in by Tony Blair to advise the government on the big scientific issues of the day.


Click here to go to Cambridgeshire
Animal rights protesters are trying to force the closure of a company who test medicines on animals


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06 Feb 02 | England
09 Jan 02 | Business
02 Jul 01 | Business
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