Animal rights activists say they plan to protest outside the headquarters of an Ilkley-based firm over the company’s involvement in the building of an animal testing laboratory.

The National Anti-Vivisection Alliance (NAVA) group, based in Oxfordshire, says it plans to carry out a peaceful ‘sustained’ protest at buildings owned by the NG Bailey group of companies, including the firm’s head office, Denton Hall.

The group is opposed to the building of a £15 million laboratory at the University of Leicester, which will be used for carrying out tests on animals. University bosses said earlier this year that the ‘vital’ tests would be in an effort to find new treatments for cancer, heart disease, meningitis and other human illnesses.

NAVA says it is targeting NG Bailey for protests as the main sub-contracting builders for the laboratory. The group further claims that thousands of beagle dogs and rodents would be used in experiments at the laboratory – and said demonstrations had already taken place at two Leeds offices.

NAVA spokesman Luke Steele said: “Local and national activists have promised a series of sustained protests against the company due to their involvement in the building of the Leicester University laboratory.

“We fully oppose the construction of this facility on the grounds of animals being used in experimentation and the delays in scientific progress this will bring about.”

In a statement yesterday, NG Bailey confirmed that it is working with main contractor Willmott Dixon on a project for the University of Leicester.

The project will result a new £15 million central research facility to update the university’s existing facilities to carry out life sciences research into a range of conditions such as cancer and meningitis.

The company said: “The facility will house rodents and may at some point in the future, house fish. The University of Leicester states categorically that the facility will not now, or in the future, be used to house dogs or primates. NG Bailey’s work on the project adheres to the company’s strict ethical code on such matters.

“With regards to demonstrations being carried out at NG Bailey sites, it can also be confirmed that three members of the National Anti-Vivisection Alliance (NAVA) recently campaigned outside two of NG Bailey’s Leeds based offices for a short period of time, before being moved on by the police.”