Closure plan for nature labs is attacked

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The Independent Online

A devastating indictment of the plans to scrap Britain's leading wildlife research centres has been delivered by English Nature, the Government's own wildlife conservation agency.

This will intensify debate over the proposals to close the world-famous research stations at Monk's Wood in Cambridgeshire, Winfrith in Dorset and Banchory near Aberdeen, and sack 200 wildlife scientists.

English Nature has written to the Natural Environment Research Council, which wants to shut the centres to trim the budget of their parent body, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. It says it has "major concerns over the scale of proposed cuts in staff and facilities," which it deems "inappropriate when the outcomes of research are needed to inform key concerns such as climate change, biodiversity conservation and environmental pollution".

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats oppose the move but Tony Blair has refused to intervene.