RSPCA in pledge on exports

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The Independent Online
The RSPCA yesterday pledged to step up the campaign against cruelty to animals in transit, if European Union agriculture ministers fail to agree tough new measures.

As talks on animal transport began in Luxembourg, the organisation called on William Waldegrave, the Minister of Agriculture, to stick to his Tory conference pledge to fight for tough new standards.

But the minister said he was 'not very optimistic' that a deal can be struck to slash permitted travel times and enforce rules on food, drink and rest periods for cattle and sheep destined for slaughterhouses.

'What ought to be agreed and what will be agreed is, sadly, rather different,' said Mr Waldegrave. He wants an enforceable system of road haulage licences for transporting animals to ensure any deal on travel limits is kept.

Britain is ready to accept a deal for compulsory feeding and watering of animals after a maximum of 15 hours on the road. The move is seen as a compromise between the RSPCA's demand of eight hours' total journey time and some southern EU countries who will not budge from 22 hours before a rest break.