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"Animal welfare groups have been told that everything will be done to ease the suffering of livestock trapped on farms"
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The BBC's Sarah Nelson
speaks to Devon farmer Bill Harper
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Douglas Roe, Pres. of Ulster Farmers Union
"The exports are dead"
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The BBC's Richard Miron
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Saturday, 14 April, 2001, 21:10 GMT 22:10 UK
Carcass burial plans stepped up
Dead sheep in a field in Cheldon, Devon
Dead sheep in a field in Cheldon, Devon
Burial sites for hundreds of thousands of animal carcasses have been identified around the country by the government's foot-and-mouth crisis committee.

Ministers have already granted themselves emergency powers allowing them to force local authorities to bury animal waste from the foot-and-mouth slaughter at landfill sites.

But Junior Agriculture Minister Joyce Quin tried to reassure the public that health and environmental guidelines would be strictly followed on the 37 waste sites earmarked for use.

Crisis in the UK
Cases on Saturday: 17
Total confirmed cases: 1,308
541,000 animals awaiting slaughter
400,000 carcasses awaiting disposal
On Saturday, there were fears of a third case of foot-and-mouth disease in Northern Ireland, less than 24 hours after tests on a dairy herd at Ardboe in County Tyrone proved positive.

But the Easter weekend has given some hope to Britain's beleaguered tourism industry as well, with many attractions reporting greater visitor numbers than expected.

'Logistical bottleneck'

The committee meeting follows admissions that the slaughter needs to be speeded up as there are still around 541,000 animals awaiting slaughter and 400,000 carcasses awaiting disposal.

The announcement comes as 200 people demonstrating against the burning of animals in Holdsworthy, Devon, broke into a field where pyres have been burning.

The protesters do not want animals burned near towns or residential areas.

Farm in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland has had its second case confirmed
Ms Quin said only those animals which had not been infected with foot and mouth - but had been slaughtered as a precaution or as part of the welfare programme - would be buried at landfill sites.

"We have identified a number of sites around the country where animals can be buried safely," she said after the meeting on Saturday.

"Obviously, however, when we look at this we have to ensure that environmental considerations are properly followed and also of course that health considerations are properly followed."

Enormous logistics

The army has described the piles of dead sheep, cattle and pigs as an enormous logistical bottleneck.

Infected animals are being burned, rendered or buried in special sites. But the uninfected carcasses are likely to be transported to landfill sites around the country.

Seventeen cases were confirmed on Saturday, bringing the UK total to 1,308.

Vaccination rethink

As the government considers new measures to tackle the disease Agriculture Minister Nick Brown said he was considering the possibility of vaccinating animals in badly-hit areas such as Devon and Cumbria.

Some parts of the farming community oppose vaccination, as it results in the loss of "disease free" status.

Mr Brown has also ordered an investigation into an incident in Monmouthshire, after a slaughterman was filmed taking pot shots at panicking sheep.

Boat trips resume on Ullswater in the Lake District
Tourist attractions are reopening

Meanwhile French agriculture minister Jean Glavany has criticised Britain's handling of foot-and-mouth, telling French radio that public veterinary services in Britain were "outdated" and had failed to give an early warning of the epidemic.

At Ash Moor in Devon, preparation work is already under way on a giant pit capable of holding 430,000 sheep carcasses.

Elsewhere, government officials in Chelmsford are awaiting test results which may confirm a suspected outbreak of swine fever near Colchester.

Downing Street says ministers are very encouraged by reports of better than expected tourist attendances and bookings in the UK.

Many major attractions were receiving more visits than last year and bed and breakfast and guest house bookings were also up.

London Zoo exceeded its target for visitors, and 12,000 people went to Chester Zoo.

Some guest houses were turning people away, and bookings for city breaks in Durham were up 64%.

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See also:

14 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Disease policy under renewed fire
14 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
Fears of third NI outbreak
13 Apr 01 | Scotland
Foot-and-mouth spreads further
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