The union has warned that closure of the facility, which carries out post-mortems on livestock, would increase the chances of spreading infections as Highlands farmers are forced to transport carcases over hundreds of miles to the next nearest specialist disease surveillance centres in Aberdeen, Perth or Thurso.
It has also highlighted the risk of farmers simply burying dead animals rather than undertake the arduous journey. Smaller farmers and crofters will be hardest hit, it says.
Alan Denney, Prospect national secretary, said: “There is a growing outcry at these plans from both farmers – whose livelihoods depend on effective disease surveillance – and the wider public. The work of this lab is unique in the Highlands and Islands and as such it is irreplaceable
“But if we are going to stop these plans opponents must set aside any political differences and speak with one voice. The consequences of failure could have grave consequences for farmers, human health and the Scottish economy.”
Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), which owns and runs the Inverness site, has justified the plans on the basis of the Kinnaird Review of Veterinary Surveillance. But the report’s author and former National Farmers’ Union Scotland president John Kinnaird has said closure would be “utter lunacy” without having an alternative nearby site.
As well as Labour’s Stewart, who was barred from the Inverness lab on a recent visit, Prospect is also talking to Independent Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie, who has been another vocal opponent of SRUC’s plans. The union is now seeking an urgent meeting with Fergus Ewing, business minister in the Scottish government and SNP member for Inverness.
Prospect is urging opponents to register their comments in the official consultation, which closes on July 10, by visiting http://www.sruc.ac.uk/diseasesurveillanceconsultation and sign a petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/do-not-close-the-veterinary-services-disease.
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