Protests force RMC to quit lab project
By David Firn and Jimmy Burns
Published: July 21 2004
The world's biggest concrete company has pulled out of building a controversial laboratory at Oxford University because of attacks by animal rights activists.
RMC Group said a firebomb attack that caused £150,000 damage last month marked an escalation from "mindless vandalism" to violence that was "putting lives at risk". Incendiary bombs destroyed the control centre, three trucks and other equipment at its site in Chertsey, Surrey.
The concrete work at Oxford, originally due for completion by September, had been speeded up in recent weeks because of attacks claimed by the Animal Liberation Front. But RMC said it was no longer obliged to finish its part of the project because it was sub-contracted to Montpellier, the lead construction contractor that pulled out on Monday in response to intimidation.
"Our role was due to finish by the end of the month, but with Montpellier pulling out yesterday we said our obligations would end," RMC said.
The departures of the two companies has increased pressure on the Home Office to tighten up on extremists. Officials are looking at the possibility of using anti-terrorist legislation to clamp down on activists behind the attacks. Another proposal being examined is laws to stop protests at peoples' homes, a key element in the campaign against scientists and staff of companies linked to animal research.
From the Bite Back website: ALF Communique received anonymously by activists in the UK: "On the night of Wednesday June 30th members of the Animal Liberation Front mounted a daring raid on the RMC site at their international HQ at Thorpe in Surrey.
Powerful incendiary devices were left on site and resulted in the destruction of three lorries, the site office and severe damage to associated industrial buildings and machinery.
According to media reports eight fire appliances attended the site and 50 firefighters took three hours to put the fires out.
This attack is a warning to RMC that collaboration in animal torture at Oxford or anywhere else will not be tolerated, and a further warning to all involved in building the Oxford laboratory to expect similar ruthless treatment.
You have been warned."