Waldegrave in plea over live animals trade

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The Independent Online
Campaigners against the live- animal export trade gave a frosty reception to an appeal yesterday by William Waldegrave, the Agriculture Minister, to support the Government in pressing for greater animal welfare standards across Europe.

He said Britain's animal welfare standards were the among the highest in Europe. "What I would like to say to responsible protesters is `Let us get together and bring pressure to bear in Europe on the Council of Ministers to raise the welfare standards in Europe'.

"It's no good smashing the windows of British farmers' lorries. If we want to stop people in Holland or Italy bringing up calves for veal in a way we believe to be cruel we must get the European Community law changed to stop it."

Mr Waldegrave said the legal trade of live animal exports could not be "broken up" by the sort of violence seen at the West Sussex port of Shoreham.

Campaigners at Shoreham said they were determined to continue their attempts to re-impose a blockade. "He's obviously working for the farmers so he has to do what they want. Laws are made to be broken and all these rules he wants made will be broken whenthey get across the Channel," said Betty Clarke, 48, of Hove. "Who's going to follow the trucks across Europe apart from the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming? One thing's for sure, the Government won't."

Sue Atkinson, of the RSPCA, said: "We want to encourage the slaughter of animals as close to the farm as possible and we want an eight-hour journey limit across Europe."

At present, the maximum journey time across Europe is 24 hours, while the British limit is 15 hours from the point of departure. But according to the RSPCA, the rules are "widely and systematically flouted".

Mr Waldegrave's appeal came after police mounted another major operation to ensure a convoy of trucks was able to embark at Shoreham. A thousand officers were involved, at a cost of £155,000, taking the policing bill since Monday above £350,000. Seven people were arrested.

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