Protesters claim another victory on animal exports

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The Independent Online
The second major victory in a fortnight was being claimed by animal rights protesters after it emerged last night that Brightlingsea wharf's owner was putting the Essex dock business up for sale. Activists and locals said their solidarity and determination in a week of protests had achieved a victory to match that won by protesters in Shoreham, West Sussex, where a contract for the export of live animals was cancelled after clashes with police.

Meanwhile in Brussels, the Minister of Agriculture, William Waldegrave, claimed victory over the use of veal crates in Europe, saying the method was doomed. He added that the European Union was moving closer to agreeing new rules on the transportation oflivestock.

"No voice was raised in favour of the continuation of this practice," Mr Waldegrave said after a meeting of agriculture ministers in Brussels. He confirmed that the European Commission has agreed to bring forward a study by two years.

Brightlingsea's mayor, Ric Morgan, said if the decision to sell was confirmed it would be "a great day" for the town. "We have suffered badly, but it's wonderful that the end is now in sight."

Since last Monday, the port has been the scene of often violent clashes between riot police and demonstrators trying to halt the export of sheep to the Continent for slaughter. The wharf's owner, Ernie Oliver, is believed to have confirmed to police thathe is putting the business on the market.

During the past few days, representatives from Tendring District Council and Essex County Council have had private discussions with Mr Oliver. They included how much "compensation" he would accept if the council revoked planning permission for the entirewharf business. The deal would involve his not challenging the revocation in the courts.

Geoffrey Markham, Assistant Chief Constable of Essex, said Mr Oliver was now under police protection. On Saturday night, a delegation of local protesters tried to deliver a video of the animal export trade to Mr Oliver's home at Tendring. They were apparently followed by what police called "professional" hunt saboteurs.

After a demonstration at the gates of Mr Oliver's home, he emerged and fired a shotgun over the protesters' heads. He claimed yesterday that they had attacked horses in his stable buildings and he believed his home was to be "smashed up".

n The export of live calves from Coventry airport could restart within days after the arrival yesterday of a Russian aircraft chartered by Phoenix Aviation, writes Glenda Cooper. The company had to halt the trade after a Boeing 737 crashed last month.