JUBILANT animal rights campaigners have welcomed a Government decision to stop using goats in painful military experiments in Hampshire.

The tests, carried out by defence research company QinetiQ at a facility in Alverstoke, Gosport, involved subjecting hundreds of animals to extreme pressures in sealed chambers to help research the possible effects of "the bends" on submarine crews.

Last year, the Daily Echo reported that 406 procedures had been carried out on goats since 2000, including 57 in 2006, when at least eight animals were killed "humanely" following hyperbaric experiments.

The Ministry of Defence had argued the tests were essential to establishing "safe escape strategies" for Royal Navy submariners who were forced to leave their vessel deep underwater.

But yesterday, following a review of the QinetiQ contract, the MoD said the procedures had provided all the information required and so there was no longer an "immediate need" to continue with them.

The decision to abandon the goat experiments was welcomed by the Southern Animal Rights Coalition, which has long campaigned against the tests.

Spokesman Tom Harris told the Daily Echo: "It's a shame it took so long but I'm glad we managed to push the issue through our campaigning against MoD and QinetiQ."