Rising costs bring halt to spending on virus clean-up

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The Independent Online

Spending on the clean-up operation following the foot-and-mouth epidemic has been halted after the Government became concerned at the escalating costs of the huge project.

Spending on the clean-up operation following the foot-and-mouth epidemic has been halted after the Government became concerned at the escalating costs of the huge project.

Farmers could now be forced to bear part of the cost of cleaning and disinfecting after it was revealed that the average bill for each farm was topping £100,000.

The Government has decided that the huge cost was "unacceptable" which would leave the taxpayer picking up a final bill of £800m. No new jobs will start until the financial implications of the work has been assessed. The halt came amid signs of overcharging for work in England. The equivalent cost in Scotland came to about £30,000 per farm.

Vets have been told that they continue with work already in progress and the clearing-up of carcasses and the mess left by the slaughtering of thousands of animals will not be affected.

However the new financial restrictions has raised concern that many farms will remain out of action for months, with the epidemic showing no signs of being eradicated.

Downing Street yesterday confirmed the order following the leaking of a memo from the Government's joint co-ordination centre set up to combat the disease. The memo said: "The Prime Minister has indicated that six-figure sums per farm are unacceptable.

"This is based on information from other European countries where the requirements of the directive are being met without incurring anything like this expenditure."

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