In peril from eco-terrorism

Share
It is an uncomfortable fact that the violent activities of clandestine animal rights groups have proved remarkably persistent. The Animal Liberation Front has not disappeared with the arrest and conviction of its ringleaders as the Angry Brigade d id nearly 25 years earlier.

The past year has seen a renewal of terrorist campaigns by animal rights militants with a spate of fire bombings and other attacks. Earlier this month Keith Mann was jailed for 14 years for incendiary attacks on an abattoir and a battery hen farm.

A principal objective during 1994 was the cross-Channel traffic in live animals. The shipping company Stena Sealink was the target for a bomb attack by the ALF offshoot, the so-called "Justice Department", and senior ferry executives were under police protection before the trade was halted.

Phoenix Aviation continued the trade by air and was subsequently singled out for protests by animal rights activists. When its Boeing 737, used for carrying live calves, crashed at Coventry before Christmas, there was suspicion of sabotage, although these fears have proved unfounded.

Today we report that the Special Branch now sees "eco-terrorism" as a serious problem. The challenge for the authorities must be to deliver an effective response to physical threats to life and property without creating a "greens under the bed" bogey.

Rising to this challenge is important because the issues in dispute are of popular concern, particularly among young people. Many ordinary law-abiding citizens are bitterly, but peacefully, opposed to practices that are central to modern agriculture and industry. The political process must take account of their protest.

One difficulty is that when concessions to animal rights are made, both the violent and non-violent campaigners claim the credit. For example, the ferry companies have publicly stated that they abandoned their cross-Channel trade in animals because of widespread public concern mobilised legally by groups such as the RSPCA. Yet there were inevitably suspicions that the threat of terrorism also played its part in the decision.

To distinguish between the strands of animal rights protest requires a sophisticated political response. There are real moral problems for an industrial society in its relationship with animals that should not be ignored because of the methods used by some campaigners. Drawing the line between acceptable and unacceptable practices in the care of animals serving human purposes needs more attention in political debate. In the long run this could prove to be the best way to marginalise extremists.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media  

The response to my Pizza Express review has been overwhelming, and taught me a lot about journalism

Holly Aston
3 Donatella Versace and Audrey  

Errors and Omissions: We were having a blond moment – maybe two

John Rentoul
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week