An Aberdeen research consortium is making a last-ditch attempt to stave off the relocation of a laboratory to York as part of the reorganisation of the Agriculture Ministry's Central Science Laboratory.
William Waldegrave, Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, announced this week that the Torry Food Science Laboratory would be moved under a centralisation plan. But after strenuous lobbying by local MPs, he conceded a 30-day moratorium to allow alternative proposals to be made.
The CSL, which works on environmental and food safety issues for government departments, is moving nearly all its sites to a new laboratory complex near York next summer.
The Norwich and Aberdeen sites were not originally included. But Mr Waldegrave said that while Norwich was competing successfully for national and European funding, the Torry site, which had very high overheads, would operate at a loss in 1995/96. The new labs would ensure that CSL worked cost-effectively, and would overcome serious shortcomings in the buildings on older sites, he said.
But local academic, industrial and political interests say the move would weaken Scotland's research base.
The Aberdeen Research Consortium, whose nine members include Aberdeen and the Robert Gordon universities, has now set up a taskforce which will draw up plans for retaining the Torry work.
Ian Lang, Secretary of State for Scotland, who has already ensured that some Torry projects move to the neighbouring Scottish Office marine laboratory, said his officials would give the consortium expert advice.