Saturday, 1 December 2012

Why the temporary ban on live animal exports from Ransgate Port has been lifted

By Cllr Michelle Fenner
The Judge who served an injunction against Thanet District Council in October 2012 said that we would lose the Judicial Review without the support of Defra (UK Government). Defra now considers that there are adequate facilities in the vicinity of Ramsgate Port, so that the appalling incidents that happened in September would not happen again. Defra are also reviewing the procedures regarding emergency plans.

Thanet District Council ‘s legal advice is therefore that the Judge will rule there is no longer a case for the temporary ban. Of course we have an absolute obligation to look after the public purse and all the way along this sorry saga we said we would stay within the legal framework but we find TDC was a victim of a situation not created by us.

We took the right decision on 13th September because of the failure of the emergency plans, resulting in the Port of Ramsgate being used to off-load animals and slaughter a number of them. We had grave concerns about the lack of facilities at the port and about the safety of its staff. We had no indications that these concerns would be resolved. Indeed we had written to the then Defra Minister in early September to this effect.

Now we are told by Defra and Animal Health that there are adequate facilities nearby. So we will wait and see if it is the case. We have written to the transporters and requested them to stop their legal case on the ground that if there is no longer a ban, then there is no longer the need for an injunction, nor a case for a Judicial Review regarding this ban.

We are in a situation similar to the one we had back in September, but we now know where we stand with Defra and Animal Health. We will continue to be vigilant and lobby agencies and the UK Government and Parliament regarding the welfare of animals in transit through our port and the RSPCA are still invited to be present at the port.

We feel that we have achieved 2 things along the way; we brought this issue to a head and we have made Defra and Animal Health reconsider the robustness of their procedures. We will now wait for them to implement them.

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