Friday, 7 September 2012

TDC leadership call for government action

Ramsgate Port is the only port in the UK to be currently used by transporters to export live animals to mainland Europe for slaughter or fattening.

Whilst it is a lawful trade, the Labour administration of TDC is also conscious of its responsibilities regarding the welfare of animals passing through the port. Our Labour Councillors consider it paramount that the EU regulations are implemented strictly in order to avoid any suffering caused to the animals by transportation.

The RSPCA were invited by TDC to conduct a thorough visit of Ramsgate Port in June 2012 by 2 of their inspectors. Their report concluded that “there were no suitable facilities at the port for handling or housing farm animals”. This was deemed unacceptable.

On the issue of dealing with emergencies the report states that the solution at present appears to be informal agreements between AHVLA and local farmers or that the lorries go back to the nearest control post available in Gloucestershire or Northamptonshire

A subsequent visit by RSPCA on 21st June 2012 also confirmed that they had serious concerns about the stocking density, the ventilation and water supply.

On Wednesday 29th August 2012 an incident took place which highlighted how precarious the situation is at Ramsgate Port.

A lorry carrying lambs arrived at the port with a severely damaged tyre. The Police served a prohibition notice on the vehicle moving further until it was repaired. The agent had arrangements to repair the vehicle but these were not available in the locality due to the nature of the work required and it took a considerable time for these to get to the port. The lorry then had to drive back to Northampton , making it a very long and uncomfortable journey for the animals. The animals were probably on the lorry for the best part of 24 hours.

This incident was further evidence of the need for a lairage facility (for livestock resting) in Kent so that should there be problems associated with a sailing or a lorry issue such as this one, the vehicles and animals only travel to a destination within Kent where they can be removed, fed and watered.

In 2008 an FVO report on a mission they carried out to the UK stated that “the Competent Authority (ie: UK Government) should take measures to ensure that arrangements are in place so that where there are delays at ports or emergency measures are needed to deal with non-compliance detected, the CA can take any necessary actions to safeguard animal welfare, including the possibility to unload animals in suitable accommodation, as required by Article 22(2) and 23(2)(e) of regulation (EC) No 1/2005.”

Such a lairage facility was ‘promised’ by the UK Government, according to correspondence from Jim Paice (then minister for …) to TDC in July 2011 but it is still not in place and, as stated previously, informal arrangements with local farmers fall short of the minimum requirements defined by EC regulations.

TDC’s Labour administration will not shrug its responsibility regarding its duty of care towards the animals in transit through Ramsgate port.

It expects that the laws and regulations regarding the transport of live animals be applied strictly.

TDC’s budget has been hit hard by the funding cuts imposed by the Tory-led Government and it is not in a position to provide adequate facilities at Ramsgate Port.

A letter has been sent by the Labour Cabinet to the UK Government and EU Commissioner to request a formal lairage / control post be set up in Kent as a matter of urgency; legal support to make inspections of lorries (and ship) by RSPCA mandatory; direct liaison with counterparts in mainland Europe so that the overall journey time and conditions of travelling can be verified.

In the absence of a control post in Kent and the lack of facilities at Ramsgate Port , our Labour administration at TDC has also requested to be given legal support to refuse access to its port for lorries transporting live animals, on the grounds of its lack of facilities should an emergency occur.


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