Sheep coralled for foot-and-mouth tests

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The Independent Online

The first stage of a foot-and-mouth screening programme on 12,000 sheep was completed yesterday as scientists tried to discover if the disease had spread to the Brecon Beacons National Park.

The first stage of a foot-and-mouth screening programme on 12,000 sheep was completed yesterday as scientists tried to discover if the disease had spread to the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Six thousand sheep, half of the huge free-roaming flock, were rounded up after fears that the contamination had spread to the higher ground. The first test results are expected within seven days. The second phase of the programme will take place next weekend when the remaining 6,000 sheep have been rounded up.

The tests were decided upon after a series of outbreaks near the villages of Crickhowell and Libanus, Powys, which took the total number of confirmed cases in Wales to 106.

The mass screening programme was overseen from a military operations room in nearby Brecon. A military spokeswoman said the sheep were receiving medical treatment because seasonal sheep dipping could not be carried out.

* New maps for some of the areas hardest hit by the foot-and-mouth outbreak will be published by Ordnance Survey today to help the rural economy.

The four maps ­ which cover Wales, the Lake District and Cumbria, the Peak District and Derbyshire and the Yorkshire Dales ­ are part of a campaign that the mapping agency hopes will promote a 'responsible return' to the countryside. The publications will be backed by nationwide advertising.

OS's marketing operation, 'Your Passport to Britain', coincides with the extension of its range of Explorer maps, which give details of rights-of-way, nature reserves and gardens, and are popular with ramblers.

Steve Erskine, OS's managing director of graphic brands, said: 'The campaign represents a major push to help with the regeneration of the rural economy through leisure and tourism. The important point is to encourage responsible visits to rural areas. We want to remind people to check access arrangements ahead of their visits.'

Access to the countryside has also been made easier by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs's decision to reinstate rights-of-way. About 85 per cent of Britain's 18,000-mile network of footpaths will be open by next weekend.

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