Livestock export proposals attacked

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NEW rules on the export of live animals can be enforced in only one country outside Britain, the Government admitted yesterday. William Waldegrave, the Minister of Agriculture, unveiling the plans on Wednesday, described them as a 'tough' way of tackling cruelty to livestock in transit, but the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) said yesterday that only France had agreed to monitor the British scheme.

A spokesman said British inspectors had no jurisdiction abroad and would not be tracking rogue hauliers. Outside Britain and France, he said, the most realistic chance of catching lawbreakers was through RSPCA investigations.

Under Mr Waldegrave's proposals, hauliers must submit detailed plans of their route to a government vet, including staging posts where they intend to feed and water the animals. If they deviate from that route, or fail to adequately care for the livestock, they could be charged with a new criminal offence and fined pounds 5,000. Where 10 or more animals are involved the fine can be pounds 1,000 per animal per offence, or one month in prison per offence.

The proposals were criticised by the RSPCA and by the P&O, Brittany and Stena Sealink ferry companies, which said the rules did not go far enough to prevent a ban on carrying live animals destined for slaughter on the continent.

All the parties said the new rules were pointless without European- wide enforcement, but MAFF said: 'We felt it was time to take unilateral action, but we are still going to press in Europe to try and get measures in place that are as effective as ours.'

The Road Haulage Association joined in the criticism of Mr Waldegrave's plans last night, describing them as 'a bureaucratic nightmare'.

Ben McGuire, secretary of the RHA's Livestock Carriers Group, said: 'They make no allowance for unexpected problems or human error.'