Protesters gather in Doncaster over animal testing site

Animal rights protesters outside Skanska in Bentley.
Animal rights protesters outside Skanska in Bentley.

Animal rights activists staged a protest outside a Doncaster construction firm over controversial plans to build an animal testing facility.

Members of several animal welfare groups gathered outside Skanska in Bentley after the company won a contract to build a facility for pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca that will involve testing cancer drugs on rodents.

Representatives of the National Operation Anti-Vivisection, Cambridge against AstraZeneca Planning and Yorkshire against AstraZeneca are urging Skanska to pull out of the contract.

Luke Beevers, aged 21, of YaAA, said: “Skanska should abide by their own ethical policy and abandon this project now.

“Not only are animal experiments cruel, they are inaccurate and therefore cannot assist advances in human medicine.

“There are many non-animal methods that are available for cutting-edge scientists.”

William Evans, of NOAV, added: “We will use all lawful means at our disposal to target any company involved in this project.”

About 30 protesters spent Friday afternoon outside Skanska’s main gates in Jossey Lane.

They chanted ‘animal abuse, no excuse’ while holding up banners promoting animal welfare.

Skanska won a contract battle in February to build the £300 million pound facility in Cambridge, which will become AstraZeneca’s corporate headquarters.

Cambridge City Council granted planning permission for the scheme two months ago and building work is due to start imminently.

A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca said a small part of the new development will include “testing early stage cancer medication on rodents.”

She added that the animals’ welfare was always regarded as ’paramount’ and the firm is legally required to carry out such testing before it can be used by humans.

In a statement on their website, the company states: “All our research using animals is carefully considered and justified - not only to confirm that the study is scientifically necessary, but also to ensure that it has been designed so that the minimum number of an appropriate species is used to achieve the scientific objectives, and that the minimum necessary harm is caused.”

It adds: “We work both within the company and the wider scientific community to share knowledge and learning in the replacement, reduction and refinement of animal studies, known as ‘The 3Rs’.”

The Star has made several attempts to contact Skanska for comment, but nobody had replied to our requests for a response at the time of going to press.