Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Response - Live Animal Exports

TDC's position has always been very clear. We intend to use the legal framework to address concerns regarding the welfare of animals in transit through its port.
Since the trade restarted at Ramsgate we invited RSPCA to be present during inspections of lorries by AHVLA. This is our prerogative as port owners to do so.
Incidentally the owners of the Joline did not allow the RSPCA on board when we contacted them about it.
The events on the 12th September showed that as local Authority we were victims of a situation where gravbe concerns were brought to the attention of AHVLA regarding some lame animals caused by a defectuous lorry and the decision taken by them to off-load the animals into the port enclosure and proceed with the slaughter of 40 sheep.
TDC had no alternative but to impose a temporary ban on live exports on the ground that the lack of facilities0at the port was detrimental to the welfare of animals and put the safety of its staff at risk.
On that day the emergency plan from AHVLA and the transporters failed and left TDC with no indicationthat this situation would be resolved. The transporters chose to sue TDC in order too have the ban lifted.
On Wednesday 22nd November the Captain of the Joline decided to sail in spite of gail force 8. He had to turn back and the animals were sent back until the next sailing which was arranged at very short notuce on Friday 24th. It seemed that the welfare of the animals subjected to long journeys by road as well as bad weather conditions at sea was not paramount then.
On Friday 24th November the Joline acted in a reckless manner in manoeuvring across the port of Ramsgate in total disregard of the Harbour Master's instructions, thus putting the safety of other port users and staff at risk, let alone its own staff.
TDC has always made a point of liaising with Agencies: Police, Defra, Trading Standards, RSPCA, MP, MEP and it set up meetings to this effect. This is what a responsible Local Authority is expected to do.
The organisation representing the protesters was never invited as it is not an established public agency.
TDC does not control, nor does it wish to have any control over the Press, the Police, the protesters. All through this sorry saga TDC has made a point of keeping to its responsibility to remain within the law and to respond legally to situations that were not of its doingm
It is worth pointing out that in early September the Cabinet wrote a letter to the Defra Monister highlighting our concerns regarding the lack of facilities at Ramsgate port and that a week prior to the incidents on 12th September Defra gave us assurances that the emergency plan for Ramsgate was not needed because nothing would happen therem
We are still of the opinion that the law needs to be looked at by the UK government and the EU. In the meantime we will continue to be mindful of the welfare of animals in transit and the secvurity of our port.

Cllr Michelle Fenner