The Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) is the government body responsible for investigating and responding to emerging animal disease outbreaks, such as avian flu and bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE). APHA also undertakes long-term research into animal diseases and supports trade in plants, animals and associated products.
According to the National Audit Office, Defra has allowed APHA’s facilities in New Haw, near Weybridge, to deteriorate over the years. It is now looking to do something about it.
It is planning to spend £2.8bn on its Science Capability in Animal Health (SCAH) programme
over the next 10 or 12 years on the facilities in New Haw.
As the appointed programme delivery partner for an initial five years, Mace Consult will provide project and programme management services.
The SCAH masterplan has already been through a public consultation. Works are to include the refurbishment of some buildings, the demolition of old stock and the construction of new science facilities.
In March 2020 the government approved funding of £1.2bn to maintain and redevelop the specialist science and diagnostic facilities but has not yet formally agreed to fund the programme at the revised cost estimate of £2.8bn.
According to a 2022 National Audit office report, the Treasury will scrutinise the next stage of the programme business case in June 2024. Following this, Defra will begin procuring the main construction contracts, and expects the main construction work to start in 2027.
Mace Consult chief executive Jason Millett said: “The SCAH programme is about providing 21st-century facilities that allow the UK to continue to strengthen its understanding of animal diseases to safeguard animal and public health and underpin pandemic preparedness.
“At Mace, we’re striving toward building a more connected, resilient, and sustainable world, and I can hardly think of a better example to prove this. With the impacts of Covid-19 still fresh in our memories and increasing threats from animal diseases, this is an exciting opportunity to directly support global health and welfare for both animals and humans.”