24 April 2019

Scotland's Rural University College (SRUC) Invests in Inverness


Following the sale of its Drummondhill site, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is looking to reinvest in Inverness.


With the sale of Drummondhill to Tulloch Homes, three of SRUC’s services in Inverness are set to move next month. This will also mean an end to the SRUC post-mortem facilities in Inverness, while plans for a new centre of excellence are realised.


SRUC is seeking public support to leverage funding for a £7 million ground-breaking Rural Veterinary Hub at the Inverness Campus, a partnership project led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. SRUC has already announced that it will invest over £2.8 Million in the project.


The post-mortem service at Drummondhill will end on 3 May 2019.  The new Rural Veterinary Hub will include cutting-edge facilities for SRUC’s disease surveillance team to support post-mortem examinations. The hub is part of SRUC’s wider transformation plan to become Scotland’s enterprise university for the rural sector.


At the end of May, the SRUC teams based at Drummondhill will move to the An Lòchran building at Inverness Campus. To support the relocation, SRUC colleagues working in SAC Consulting at An Lòchran are moving to a new home at Alcaig Farm, near Conon Bridge.


SRUC’s five-strong Veterinary Services team, along with the team in the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS), will move to Inverness Campus to work alongside the existing SRUC Epidemiology Research Unit.


As part of the move, SAC Consulting will now support their farming clients from new offices. SAC Consulting are the first tenants in a partnership with two local farmers Shaun and Ewan Macdonald. The new countryside location is a few miles from Dingwall Mart and will be more convenient for farmers.


Caroline Argo, Dean of SRUC’s North Faculty, said: “SRUC has a long history in Inverness and we’re looking forward to being part of a new centre of excellence with Highlands and Islands Enterprise. We are developing further plans for Inverness and seeking funding for an exciting new venture that will provide a real benefit to the region.


“I’d like to thank Shaun and Ewan Macdonald for their support to create a new home for SAC Consulting in the Inverness region. My colleagues are looking forward to advising famers from their new home in the heart of the countryside.


“The decision to end post-mortem examinations in Inverness was not taken lightly. Disease vigilance is vital for the whole of Scotland and we are here to support livestock vets across the region so there is a minimal effect on services.


“The move supports an approach from SRUC Veterinary Services to move away from post-mortem provision and instead work with veterinary practices to support the diagnosis, the control and the prevention of disease. Ultimately this will be to the greater benefit of the livestock producers and the animals they care for, across the whole of the Highlands.”


George Gunn, Head of Veterinary Epidemiology at SRUC said: “SRUC has already set aside £2 million for investment and development of a new Rural Veterinary Hub at the Inverness Campus. We are actively seeking additional funding, from a variety of sources, to make this a world-class centre for animal health-related research, innovation and linked business development. Our new hub, working in partnership with many others, will offer real economic benefits and make Inverness a leading area for this important aspect of regional sustainability.”


Martin Birse, NFUS Chairman Highlands and Islands, said: “While it’s sad to see the closure, we are practical people and we want to see the specialist vets in disease surveillance out and about, working in conjunction with our own farm vets to see their good work continue. Farming in the Highlands and Islands has its own challenges. Inverness has been a great centre but being able to take expert knowledge and expertise to areas across the region, especially to the islands, will have benefits. We’re looking forward to see future plans for a new vet facility with a post-mortem room for the Highlands and Islands.”


Colin Manson, Chair of the Inverness Veterinary Services Stakeholder Group, said: “The stakeholders welcome the fact that SRUC are looking to invest in new facilities at Inverness Campus with a post-mortem room. We’re sorry to see it go but the future facilities should reassure people. In the interim period, it’s good to see the support for farm vets, they should be the first contact for farmers for cases normally. It’s good to hear that the team from the Inverness disease surveillance team will be on hand to support sample collection on site as well.”


Phone numbers for all services and SRUC contacts in the area remain the same.