Amelioration works have been completed on the Department's High Containment Laboratory at Backweston Campus so that this facility now complies with the highest international standards (the Australia/New Zealand standard for level 4 laboratories). This new facility will provide my Department with a suitable space within which any exotic virus of farmed animals can be safely and effectively handled.
Therefore, Ireland will be entirely self-sufficient in respect of laboratory diagnosis in the event of an outbreak of an exotic viral disease and will no longer be reliant on our counterparts in the UK. The total cost of these amelioration works, the ancillary works that were required on a heat treatment plant and the associated consultancy fees was €7.5 million. Commissioning of the new laboratory has commenced.
In tandem with this, the High Containment Laboratory team is in the process of moving all of its exotic disease diagnostics operations into the new laboratory on a phased basis. This will ensure continuity of service and is in line with best international practice in bio-containment of the high risk agents involved (all of which are exotic to Ireland). Commissioning and relocation will be completed over the next few months.