The RSPCA is delighted by the decision of the owners of Ipswich Port, Associated British Ports (ABP), to suspend immediately and “until further notice” the live transport of farmed animals to Europe.
The decision follows an exchange between the RSPCA and ABP in which the latter confirmed that the port did not have suitable facilities for the handling of animals should emergencies arise.
The trade moved to Ipswich, a week ago, following its suspension from the port of Ramsgate in Kent.
This occurred after an incident, two weeks ago, during which 500 sheep had to be unloaded from a truck in the port. 46 of these sheep died. Two drowned, two suffered broken legs and a further 42 had to be shot on the advice of a vet because of their lameness. .
In the summer, the RSPCA provided a report to the Ramsgate port owners, Thanet District Council, highlighting the inadequacy of the port's facilities and warning of the severe problems animals would experience in the event of an emergency. It was in the response to this incident, the RSPCA report and questions over the ability of the port authority to comply with their duty of care to the animals that Thanet Council decided to suspend the trade.
One sailing of sheep to the continent has taken place from Ipswich. The vessel involved is the MV Joline, a converted former Russian tank transporter. The crossing to Calais took over 15 hours so calling into question compliance with EU animal welfare regulation.
Efforts to re-open Ramsgate
Gavin Grant, RSPCA Chief Executive said; "I am delighted that ABP have suspended this dire trade. They are taking their responsibilities seriously to the animals.
"ABP have acknowledged to the RSPCA that, like Ramsgate, their port did not have suitable facilities to help the animals should an emergency arise. Sadly, we saw the unacceptable suffering in Ramsgate in just such an emergency.
"I am aware that the National Farmers Union is making efforts to re-open Ramsgate. I say to them that they should respect the views of the people of Ramsgate, Ipswich and this country that there is no place in a civilised and compassionate society for this vile trade that causes so much suffering to animals.
"I recently raised the RSPCA's concerns about this trade with David Heath, the new Minister of Agriculture and with the EU Commission. I continue to be in touch with Mr Heath and am meeting the Commission again in the coming weeks to brief them on these important developments."
Notes to editors
Pictures available from the national press office on 0300 123 0244/0288
The RSPCA wants:
· The end of long-distance transport and animals being slaughtered close to the point of production
· An eight hour maximum journey time for all animals travelling for fattening and further slaughter
Why has the limit of eight hours been chosen?
· It is a time period most animals could cope with – given the right conditions
· It fits quite well with the requirements of the law on drivers’ hours.
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