FMD lab to get £100m overhaul

The government has announced it will spend over £100m redeveloping the laboratory blamed for the 2007 foot and mouth outbreak.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills decided to invest in the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) at Pirbright, Surrey, following "extensive reviews of the UK’s needs for animal health research".

The decision comes two years after Dr Iain Anderson described the facility as “shabby and dilapidated” and called for it to be replaced. His report into the FMD outbreak concluded that leaky drains may have allowed the deadly virus to escape from the laboratory, infecting the UK cattle population.

Professor Douglas Kell, chief executive, of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), said the funding would be a “major boost” for animal health research in the UK.

“This redevelopment at Pirbright will strengthen our strategic capability to protect UK livestock and other animals – including people – from devastating diseases,” he said.

Professor Martin Shirley, IAH director, added: “I am absolutely delighted by this news. It is a clear vote of confidence in the world class science carried out at IAH and recognises the increasing threats posed by animal diseases such as foot and mouth, bluetongue, and African swine fever, which could cause massive economic and social damage.

“The investment in state-of-the-art facilities at IAH will ensure the UK is in a position to control, contain and eradicate the threats of established and emerging diseases of animals.”

The Pirbright redevelopment is expected to be completed in 2013.

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