New laboratory proposed for NMR Skipton Road

tis  The NMR building.  (120502M4)
tis The NMR building. (120502M4)

Environmental testing group Smithers Viscient hope to start lab testing work at the old National Milk Records Building on Skipton Road before the end of the year.

The US environmental testing company has said they hope to start testing on amphibians and invertebrates at the site before the end of the year.

Dave Schwarz, a spokesperson from Smithers Viscient, said: “We do not have a final agreement in place yet for the site.

“We like the site and its function as a lab does fit our needs.”

Smithers Viscient hope to carry out eco-toxicology testing in the laboratories on Skipton Road.

Mr Schwarz said: “We would carry out testing on the safety of chemicals relative to the environment for a variety of clients from the agriculture and pharmacology sectors.

“It is not the kind of testing we would associate with animal testing. There will be testing on invertebrates and amphibians, such as worms and fish.

“That is not the kind of testing that gets classed as animal testing; there will be no testing on mammals at the site.”

Although Smithers Viscient does offer avian toxicology testing as a service, a spokesperson from the company assured the Harrogate Advertiser that no testing on birds would take place at the site.

The company, which acquired the Environmental Sciences Group (ESG) of Covance Laboratories in June 2012, were granted planning permission for an extension at the site by Harrogate Borough Council in January.

Mr Schwarz said: “In total we think we will have around 70 staff at the site, although more people may be hired if the site expands.

“It wouldn’t be until the end of the year after agreements are in place and renovations have been carried out that Smithers Viscient would move in.”

Will lab attract protestors?

Covance Laboratories on Otley Road in Harrogate has been plagued with protests by animal rights protestors over the years and fears have been raised that a similar situation would arise at the NMR site.

A spokesperson for Smithers Viscient said that security was important to the firm, but more because of the chemicals they work with than due to protestors.

A spokesperson from the National Anti-Vivisection Society said: “Regardless of what the species, animal experiments remain cruel and unnecessary.

“Ethical research methods, not involving animals, are widely accepted as being more reliable.

“Every year in the UK around 3 million animals suffer and die in experiments – that is one animal every ten seconds.

“Animal experiments are unreliable, unethical and misleading.”