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Cambridge research centre bid thwarted by protest fears

A Cambridge University research centre judged to be of national importance in the study of serious diseases has been refused planning permission because of police fears over animal rights protests.
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
07 February 2002

South Cambridgeshire District Council's development control committee rejected the university's application on the basis that it was opposed by the county's police force.

"Cambridgeshire Constabulary, on the basis of recent experience of demonstrations against current sites which involve animal research, have commented that the proposal will result in demonstrations," the planning director said yesterday in his published report.

"Also, they are of the view that such demonstrations at this site will result in road blockages and a serious danger to public safety," he added.

The planning committee accepted that the new research centre did not breach other planning regulations and that it was in the national interest, but it considered that the site was "unacceptable because of the risk to public safety".

The committee accepted that the cost of policing any demonstrations and the loss of value to property were not planning issues, but that it had to take the view of the police into consideration.

"In coming to this decision, regard was had to whether conditions could be used to make the proposal acceptable. However, in discussions with Cambridgeshire Constabulary, it has been concluded that measures to limit the risk to public safety on this site would not be effective," the committee said.

A spokeswoman for the university said the decision would prevent the building of a research centre judged to be of international importance in the studying of the brain and serious behavioural disorders.

"The university is clear that this decision will have a deeply damaging effect on the search for the alleviation of devastating disorders of life-threatening diseases and potentially on the pharmaceutical industry of this country," she said.

Scientists were to use the centre to study a range of brain disorders, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's disease, as well as the effects of strokes, brain damage, tumours, anxiety, drug addiction, autism,and other mental illnesses.

Animals, including primates, were to be used in experiments, but this would only be done if there were no viable alternatives, the university said.

The Department of Trade and Industry, which was to fund the centre, wrote to the committee explaining its importance to the national interest.

Although the centre was to be built on Huntingdon Road in Cambridge, it has no connection with Huntingdon Life Sciences, the drug-testing company at the centre of animal rights protests.

Also from the Science/Medical section.
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Study weakens anti-abortionists' adult tissue claim
Chewing gum can boost brainpower
Armchair golfers stand to improve their games

homepage: homepage: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_medical/story.jsp?story=118664

change through fear 13.Mar.2002 19:18


this is interesting, if the motive of terrorism is for a minority group to enact change by instilling fear in a larger population. However, we should be careful, because while terrorists might have caused fear on 911, it has lead to some extremely hostile and violent reaction. Since there was no commentary accompanying this article, I would like to offer a few points and see if anyone else wants to as well.
1. terrorism seems to have been effective in this case.
2. the change did not come directly from the potential victims of terrorism. it came from the fears of peripheral parties that stood to suffer "fallout" of a sort. so, while America may not change its ways after 911, others might, including potentially the EU.
3. in small action like ALF, there is noone to react to. more visible terrorists take huge risks for themselves and those close to them. so stay invisible.
4. so fear is effective. but should any new societal models be based on fear? this seems to have been necessary but problematic in the past.

reactionary peom in the face of oppression 13.Mar.2002 22:06


Alamagordo Sky

It rained roses in Alamagordo
So, you can't trust me with possesion
It's been given to the sun by
Dragon flys
and on a balmy night to San Antonio
The lines hold me awake
rigid like the tumbling sea
Crash, Cry,
hearts of expression
This body is
Opiate distortion
together we burn in cages of action
forms like the tumbling sea
and yet
Thier cages are solid
Our water thier poison
Our touch stings like concrete
alone they
know one another in heat
through-steel-addiction enforced-genocide
counting days in tears
and nights by the harsh smell
of latex and shadowy
forms in white lab coats
Despencers of reason?
With our heads if we have to