Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has welcomed news that plans to close the SAC Disease Surveillance Centre in Inverness are to be reconsidered.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead confirmed the decision in a letter to Mr McArthur, who had earlier made representations to the Minister, highlighting concerns about the impact such a decision could have on the ability of farmers and vets in the islands to get timely access to diagnostic and veterinary advice and support.
Commenting on Mr Lochhead’s announcement, Liam McArthur said:
“There are few parts of the country that rely as heavily as Orkney on livestock farming. The need for good disease surveillance and access to timely veterinary advice and support is therefore all the more crucial.
“A reorganisation of the network of disease surveillance centres has been under consideration for some time. This included proposals to close the lab facility in Inverness, something that gave rise to fears amongst farmers and vets across the Highlands & Islands.
“Here in Orkney, there were similar concerns that any further centralisation could result in reduced or delayed access to the expertise and service available through the Inverness centre. It is therefore encouraging to hear confirmation from the Minister that these plans are to be put on hold.
“Hopefully, this will enable further thought to be given to how best to structure disease surveillance across the region. A continued post-mortem facility in Inverness, however, is a good basis from which to start”.