Rothamsted scientists make final plea as council signs restriction order

PUBLISHED: 16:16 25 May 2012

Rothampsted Research, Harpenden.

Rothampsted Research, Harpenden.

Archant

SCIENTISTS have made a final plea for Sunday’s planned protest at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden to be called off.

Campaign group Take the Flour Back have arranged the day of action to voice opposition to the ongoing trial of genetically modified (GM) wheat.

Dr Gia Aradottir, a researcher at Rothamsted, said: “We are worried and upset it has come to this. We keep pleading with them to cancel the protest or at least to do it peacefully.

“We will be there on the day to answer questions and engage in dialogue with people.”

She continued: “This is just one of the many experiments we have at Rothamsted. We are most worried about the long-term experiment getting damaged, as this is 150 years of data that cannot be replaced.

“Everything here is valuable and we hope that people respect this.”

St Albans District Council has today signed an order to restrict access to public land to Rothamsted over the weekend.

Hertfordshire Constabulary applied to the council for a Prohibition of Trespassory Assembly Order under Section 14A of the Public Order Act 1986.

Daniel Goodwin, Chief Executive of St Albans District Council said: “The Council was satisfied that the necessary conditions for such an order to be made have been demonstrated. As part of the required process, we sought the consent of the Home Secretary for the making of the order, which has been granted.”

The terms of the order are that: an assembly is intended to be held on land at Rothamsted Research Centre to which the public has not right of access, the assembly is likely to be help without the permission of the occupier of the land, the assembly may result in significant damage to the land and buildings which are of historical and scientific importance.

Mr Goodwin continued: “In addition to our statutory role, the Council is also the land owner of nearby Rothamsted Park and a member of St Albans City and District Community Safety Partnership.

“We are working with police and Rothamsted Research, to facilitate a safe, lawful and peaceful protest and to ensure that rights to freedom of expression and assembly are maintained.”

Those against the trial have said it is “grossly irresponsible” to carry out an open-air experiment of this kind, arguing that it could lead to cross-contamination of wild and domestic plants through wind-borne pollen, as well as affecting neighbouring farms.

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