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Farmers call for more details on SRUC Craibstone expansion plans

SRUC plans to expand its Craibstone campus on the outskirts of Aberdeen.
SRUC plans to expand its Craibstone campus on the outskirts of Aberdeen.

Farmers have called on Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) to provide details and timelines for its plans to expand its Craibstone campus on the outskirts of Aberdeen.

Representatives from the college took part in an online meeting, organised by NFU Scotland (NFUS), to discuss the plans.

The proposals, which were unveiled last month and put out to a community consultation, include plans to build teaching facilities focused on animal health and veterinary skills, research facilities, space for a veterinary practice partnership and a new halls of residence.

SRUC said these were long-term plans linked to its upcoming planning application for the new SeedPod project.

SeedPod is a £21 million investment, in partnership with private economic development body Opportunity North East and through the Aberdeen City Region Deal, to create a centre of excellence for the food and drink sector in the region.

Professor Caroline Argo, dean of SRUC’s north faculty, said: “The plans are a great indication of the scale of our ambition.

“The precise nature of the buildings is yet to be determined, but we are committed to a tertiary education model which in theory can take students from NC level all the way to a PhD and beyond.”

NFUS north-east regional chairman Andrew Connon said he welcomed any investment in agricultural education facilities in the region but he was concerned about losing facilities to a new housing development on the site.

He said: “Core agriculture is not mentioned in your consultation and it really concerns me.

“The north-east deserves and must have a strong agricultural and research presence. We need clear plans for the investment – real meat on the bones – and we need satisfactory timelines.

“We cannot afford to be looking for the same answers in a year’s time.”

NFUS vice-president, Charlie Adam, said the industry needed assurances that money raised from the sale of campus land to Cala Homes would be reinvested in the area.

He added: “We need assurances that the education and research facilities are going to be replaced in time to take the place of existing facilities as they go.”

Prof Argo was unable to provide timelines but said the college was “desperately working” to ensure any displaced facilities, as a result of the new housing scheme, were being “replaced with better”.

SRUC principal Wayne Powell said the total investment in the site would exceed the £9.6m raised from the sale of land to Cala in 2006.

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