Petition aims to stop Harrogate animal testing firm felling trees
Apr 17, 2024
The Harrogate Labcorp site. Pic: Labcorp Drug Development.

A petition has been launched to stop an animal testing company from felling two semi-mature trees in Harrogate.

American healthcare firm Labcorp Drug Development, which was previously known as Covance and has a site on Otley Road, conducts tests on animals, including dogs and mice.

It is frequently the subject of animal rights activists’ protests.

The company has submitted plans to North Yorkshire Council to fell trees at its Harrogate site.

The application, submitted by agent Arbotech on behalf of the company, says both trees — a Swedish whitebeam and a grey alder — are protected by tree preservation orders, which requires applicants to provide a reason for felling to take place.

A tree report carried out by Boroughbridge environmental consultants Barnes Associates on behalf of Labcorp says the grey alder is “dead” and poses a “moderate risk”. The arboriculturists recommended the tree is felled.

It adds the Swedish whitebeam poses a “slight” risk, but also recommends the tree should be removed.

However, one Harrogate resident is taking action against the application.

Shelagh Dixon, who set up the petition yesterday, told the Stray Ferret she wants to alert people to Labcorp’s plans, as well as its animal testing work in general. She said:

“Labcorp is now hacking down protected trees. The destruction of these trees disrupts local eco-systems and contributes to climate change.

“We cannot stand by while this happens. We need your help. It’s time we hold Labcorp accountable for their actions.”

The proposed visual of the site extension, as submitted by Labcorp at the time.

Ms Dixon also said she fears the tree-felling could lead to plans to expand the drug development site, which she added would mean “more harm would ensue”.

Her concerns follows the former Harrogate Borough Council’s decision to approve plans to refurbish and expand the Otley Road site in February 2022.

Labcorp purchased six vacant buildings in December 2020 and planned to create a new entrance, a one-way system to access the car park and reconfigure the ground and first floors.

However, it is not known whether work has since started on the site.

The Stray Ferret approached Labcorp about the petition and the tree-felling plans, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

Ms Dixon’s petition has already received more than 500 signatures. She hopes it will achieve at least 1,000.

North Yorkshire Council will decide on the application at a later date.

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