CAMPAIGNERS against a Hampshire animal testing company moving to their village fear it could become a target for animal rights protesters.

Wickham Laboratories has sparked a protest against its plan to move from Wickham, near Fareham, to Upham, near Winchester.

Opponents are urging Winchester City councillors to reject planning permission for new laboratories because villagers and staff might be indirectly affected by animal protesters.

Villagers say they are especially worried after Huntingdon Life Sciences came under pressure and intimidation of invest-ors and staff.

Huntingdon blames campaigners for coming close to closing down. Animal rights campaigners say the firm's own business practices had deterred invest-ors.

Upham villagers say staff who move close to their work, and their neighbours would be affected by any disturbances caused by direct action.

They fear the premises would take on the appearance of a high-security prison because of floodlighting, razor wire and security guards and dog patrols needed to combat anti-vivisection intruders. The planning application for Torbay Farm at Sciviers Lane, is due to be considered by Winchester City Council in March.

Dr Neil Osborne, of Sciviers Lane, said: "Our views on animal testing are irrelevant to the overwhelming opposition.

"Whatever residents' moral views on vivisection, no one wants to be indirect victims of animal rights campaigns.

"This amounts to an environmental intrusion by premises that look like a mini-prison in a small village.

"We've seen what happens to the people who live near Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Marjorie Pooley, of Animal Concern Hampshire, said: "These testing companies are quick to blame us for their troubles. But they have created their own problems which have scared off investors.

Wickham Laboratories was unavailable for comment, but says it carries out vital work to protect consumers.