Cambridge University is pressing on with plans for a new animal research laboratory, despite warnings that it will become the latest target for animal rights activists.

Research at the neuroscience lab will involve using monkeys and other animals as part of work to develop treatments for strokes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Animal rights activists, who conducted a fierce campaign against animal testing at Huntingdon Life Sciences, also in Cambridgeshire, have promised to fight the multi-million pound scheme, which has already been turned down once by the local council.

But the university has resubmitted a planning application to South Cambridgeshire District Council after altering part of the design and getting backing for the research from the Department of Trade and Industry. It has now lodged revised plans for the site on the outskirts of Cambridge, where it already owns some buildings used for agriculture.

The original application was opposed by college fellows and councillors as well as animal rights protesters. Cambridgeshire police warned that it would attract demonstrations.

A university spokesman said that, unlike the previous application, the new proposal did not intrude on to Green Belt land.

He said planners "also required evidence from [the] Government that this sort of work is necessary for the research into human and animal health problems; they have now received a letter setting that out very clearly." The spokesman added: "Studies using animals have led to important developments in medical knowledge and to the elimination of life-threatening diseases.

"Studying health and disease in animals is sometimes the only way to answer questions in medical research and has led to the development of effective treatments for conditions such as whooping cough, polio, asthma and leukaemia."

But Joan Court, a Cambridgeshire animal rights campaigner, said the plan would be opposed. "I am appalled to hear the university is considering laboratories where animals are incarcerated. We will do our best to oppose this by all non-violent means possible," she said.

The Cambridgeshire Police Authority has been forced to ask the Home Office for more money after the cost of policing protests at Huntingdon Life Sciences rose to more than £1m. The Authority's chairman, John Reynolds, who is a county councillor for the area where the university wants to build, said: 'I am concerned that a laboratory specialising in animal experiments is going to attract the same sort of attention that Huntingdon Life Sciences currently attracts.

"We would hope the application will address the serious concerns of local people in terms of access to the site and that there will have been full consultation with the police and the Highways Agency regarding the animal rights protest potential."

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