Feb 07, 2002
A major new British research centre for brain disorders was refused planning permission on Wednesday night because of police fears it would spark violent protests by animal rights activists.
Cambridge University heard it could not go ahead with the 24 million-pound centre after police told the local council it would result in demonstrations and could pose a "serious danger to public safety."
The decision was taken despite a letter from the Department of Trade and Industry saying that the proposed facility was of national importance and would consolidate Britain's position as a global leader in neuroscience.
The centre was going to focus on behavioural and cognitive neuroscience, and it would have used primates in research on diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia and depression.
However, the proposed centre has no connection with Huntingdon Life Sciences, the drug testing firm near Cambridge at the centre of animal rights protests.
In a statement, the university said the decision would have a "deeply damaging effect on the search for the alleviation of devastating disorders and life-threatening diseases and potentially on the pharmaceutical industry of this county."
"It is a very sad day and seems to set a dangerous precedent," added a spokeswoman at the Research Defence Society, which represents researchers in the debate about the use of animals in research.
A spokesman at the Wellcome Trust
medical charity, which had committed 22 million pounds for building and
equipping the new centre, said the use of animals remains essential for
solving many important medical problems.
© 2002 Reuters Ltd