Animal testing began at Oxford University earlier this month in a new £18m Biomedical Sciences building after years of protest about the construction of the animal laboratory. The biomedical building seeks to re-house research animals from various older sites across the university into the new facility, which, according to the university, exceeds Home Office regulations and sets a “gold standard for animal care.”
Work began on the building in 2004 yet, amid protests and alleged intimidation, the construction was suspended for several months while the university successfully sought a high court injunction against animal rights activists. With work resuming in 2005 the building has opened now almost two years behind schedule, yet the building in not expected to be fully operational until mid-2009.
Professor Tony Monaco, pro-vice chancellor for planning and resources, told The Telegraph that “without this [disruption] the facility would have been completed on time and on budget”, suggesting the final cost of the facility to have significantly exceeded its £18m budget. The university spent £4.5m in 2007 on security for the facility and, with the building still remaining behind barriers and barbed wire, there is concern as to how to secure the building in future.
Oxford Professor Rodney Phillips, chairman of a university ethics committee, stated that the university was actively reducing its reliance upon animal testing and, briefing students about the laboratory, he stated “If we had to use no animals in research from tomorrow, this division at Oxford will be glad. The day we can close it all down, that will be wonderful”.