Whales, wildlife and farm animals across a large swath of northern Scotland could all suffer if a veterinary health laboratory funded by the Scottish Government is forced to close, campaigners have warned.
Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is planning to save £400,000 a year by closing the animal disease surveillance centre in Inverness. Across the Highlands, the centre looks after the health of agricultural livestock, helps investigate wildlife crime like the poisoning of birds of prey, and leads work on the hundreds of whales, dolphins and seals stranded and killed around Scotland’s shores.
SRUC has launched a consultation proposing that the Inverness centre’s work should be taken over by laboratories in Thurso, Aberdeen and Perth. The consultation is due to close this week, and then go to the Scottish Government for a decision.
Local politicians, farmers and vets have all protested against the proposed closure. But they have now been joined by environmental groups, alarmed at the implications for wildlife.
“The loss of the animal disease centre in Inverness will be a huge blow to the research being done to help save marine mammals,” said Alan Knight, chair of British Divers Marine Life Rescue.
“I have worked with the team at the Scottish marine animals stranding scheme for many years and we have changed our rescue protocols as a direct result of their research. To close the centre with no thought being given to where the scheme will be housed is beyond belief.”