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Beringer Report (pdf) This report is from an independent review panel established under the chairmanship of Professor Sir John Beringer in December 2007. The panel’s remit was to advise BBSRC1 Council on the future funding, governance and risk management at the Institute for Animal Health (IAH), which occupies sites at Compton (Berkshire) and Pirbright (Surrey). The review was instigated following the Government’s response to the foot and mouth disease outbreak in summer 2007.


APRIL 2008


Recommendation 1: We recommend that the Pirbright Site Redevelopment Programme must be carried through to completion without delay.

Recommendation 2: We recommend that the redeveloped Pirbright laboratory should be positioned as a new ‘National Centre for Animal Viral Disease’ and should be founded upon a joint BBSRC-Defra science strategy for animal health and welfare.

Recommendation 3: BBSRC and Defra must jointly provide long-term core funding to ensure the sustainability of the new National Centre at Pirbright. We do not believe it appropriate to fund a national facility with statutory responsibilities primarily through the award of research grants and contracts.

Recommendation 4: We recommend that core funding for the new National Centre at Pirbright should be administered as a single stream with a planning horizon of at least five years. Core funding must include adequate provision for core staff, running costs, maintenance and renewal of infrastructure, so that safety and biosecurity needs are satisfied.

Recommendation 5: In line with the previous wishes of the IAH Governing Body, BBSRC should take over direct responsibility for governance of IAH. As an interim measure to resolve the current ambiguity of governance, and in recognition of the scale of change facing IAH, we recommend that the IAH Governing Body should invite BBSRC to become a Corporate Trustee for IAH, in order to accelerate the planned move to bring governance under more direct control.

Recommendation 6: We recommend that a clear single line of management and reporting is established for all staff within the new Centre at Pirbright, for example through seconding relocated VLA staff to BBSRC or vice versa. This will require explicit agreement between BBSRC, IAH and VLA management in advance of the staff moves.

Recommendation 7: In view of the importance of the new Centre at Pirbright as a national facility, and the potential economic and social impact of serious disease outbreaks, BBSRC and Defra must agree long-term arrangements for its ownership and management. If there is no prospect of agreement by April 2009 the matter should be resolved by referral through DIUS and Defra to the Cabinet Office.

Recommendation 8: We recommend that appropriate IAH and VLA staff develop jointly agreed risk management procedures. In order that procedures are in place well in advance of the movement of VLA staff to Pirbright, this process should begin immediately.

Recommendation 9: We recommend that BBSRC Council’s decisions regarding the future of IAH Compton and investment in endemic disease research should be based on a thorough assessment of scientific and strategic need.

Recommendation 10: We recommend that, provided Council is persuaded by the scientific and strategic case, work should be relocated from Compton to join the new Centre at Pirbright.

Recommendation 11: We recommend that Defra, working closely with BBSRC, should lead in drawing together the main funders and stakeholders of animal health and welfare research to develop a joint national strategy for science and funding to underpin the management of risks from animal diseases, both endemic and exotic.

Recommendation 12: We recommend that Defra, working closely with BBSRC, should lead in setting up a funding body for animal health and welfare research, surveillance and associated functions, as a route to developing a joint national strategy and improving coordination across the relevant funders.

Recommendation 13: We recommend that a new Animal Health and Welfare agency should be established. Animal health and welfare is simply too important to remain as at present; it must be given clear leadership and be made less vulnerable to budgetary fluctuations and ‘border disputes’ between organisations.