Calls from Thanet District Council for a maximum journey time of eight hours for live animal shipments have been rejected by the government.
The Government was highly critical of the request saying that
a "one-size-fits-all" solution to journey times for all species is not supported by the available scientific evidence.
The council leader, Cllr. Bob Bayford, made the request in a letter to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which looks after the welfare of animals when they are being transported.
In response, DEFRA have said that, although they would prefer animals to be
slaughtered as close as practicable to their point of production, the government
would not support setting an automatic eight hour maximum journey time for all species of livestock. A "one-size-fits-all" solution to journey times for all species is not supported by the available scientific evidence.
Instead, DEFRA have said that they will be supporting the idea of European discussions of setting a maximum journey time or maximum distance limit, which aims to stop animals being sent on unnecessarily long journeys to slaughter.
Cllr Bayford said:
It’s disappointing to get this response from the government, as the council felt that this was a reasonable request and one that would help to stop animals suffering on long journeys.
Cllr Bayford did not comment on the criticism that the Council had failed to examine the scientific evidences upon which the current legislation is built. As Thanet District Council refuses to answer press enquiries from all but a select few we unable to put it Cllr Bayford that this national request only took into account the local authorities need to be seen to be active on the subject of live exports as this is a topic that many local people feel very strongly about and yet the Council has little power to act upon.
Thanet Council has received a response from the European Commission. This confirms that the regulations governing live animal exports are being reviewed, but this will not be accompanied by any proposal to change the current legislation. Instead, it will be an update on the impact that the regulations have had on animal welfare.
The email mentions that:
The Commission foresees that the report will be discussed in the European Parliament and Council, and based on the outcome of (amongst other) these discussions, the Commission will decide on which actions are necessary to correct identified shortcomings.