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BBC Wales's Sian Lloyd
"Preparations for a pyre are only at an early stage."
 real 56k

Wednesday, 28 March, 2001, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Environmental fears of cull burning
Sheep on transort lorry
Sheep being transported for mass cull
As the mass cull of 40,000 sheep steps up, carcasses are being piled up on a disused runway for burning amid widespread environmental fears.

The Welsh Assembly has said that the sheep will be burned at Mona Airfield but a nearby farmer has threatened to get a High Court injunction to stop the incineration.

Vet checking a lamb for signs of the disease
A total of 13 farms on the island are contaminated

He is being backed by residents in the nearby village of Bodffordd who are concerned over health issues.

The Environment Agency has warned that air quality down wind of the burning pyres is likely to be very poor.

It recommends that people should not stay within two kilometres of the centre of the pyre for any significant length of time.

The agency's north Wales manager Andrew Dixon said concerns continue about the use of Mona airfield because of poor soil cover and underlying geology which might allow contaminated water to seep towards the Cefni reservoir or local streams.

He also said that there is the potential for contaminants in the smoke from fires on hard standing to affect the reservoir as well as the contribution to atmospheric pollution.

Fears for health and the environmental followed a day of confusion and alleged inefficiency after the cull at the Gaerwen abattoir on the island was delayed due to an administration error.

Environment Agency logo
Environment Agency: concerned for a nearby reservoir

Begin the source of the first outbreak on the island which has been badly affected by the disease, the premises had not been re-licenced to trade.

Meanwhile, around Wales as a whole, there are no new confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth with the total remaining at 42 cases of foot-and-mouth in Wales, with 13 of them on Anglesey, 25 in Powys, and four in Monmouthshire.

Across the UK there were 44 new outbreaks on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 693.

Following similar action in Cumbria, the assembly ordered the mass cull in north Wales to create a firebreak around the contaminated area to prevent any further spread of the disease.

But Anglesey farmer and north Wales Assembly Member Peter Rogers described the mass slaughter as "utter confusion".

"They've picked a burial site without any thought about anyone else," he said.

"It's in open countryside, the A5 goes passed it. Nobody has thought about the consequences."

Assembly Member and farmer Peter Rogers
Assembly Member and Anglesey farmer Peter Rogers

Reacting to fierce criticism, Welsh Agriculture Minister Carwyn Jones said: "Where ever you go, what ever you do, you will always find people protesting.

"The residents of Bodffordd will be receiving letters explaining what is going on.

"There is no risk to human health, there is no risk to animal health.

"The Environment Agency have been fully consulted, they have set down rules for us to follow, we are following those rules and they are contented."

The plan as it stands is that the army will transport carcasses to the proposed disposal site which is owned by the Ministry of Defence.

This is a crisis and it has to be met with crisis action immediately

Anglesey farmer and North Wales AM Peter Rogers

The airfield was selected after the preferred landfill site elsewhere on the island was ruled out because of objections from Anglesey councillors.

Peter Rogers AM said that the mood among farmers had shifted at that many were now calling for an end to the cull and the beginning of mass vaccination instead.

"The cull is too late, Carwyn Jones has only got one option left and that is a vaccination scheme," he said.

"This is a crisis and it has to be met with crisis action immediately."

In mid Wales, farmers are waiting news about whether or not the cull will be extended to their area.

It is expected that only livestock that passed through Welshpool market on 19 February and those that they have come into contact with will have to be slaughtered.

Meanwhile, Welsh Assembly Finance Minister Edwina Hart has announced that she is making 12m available to help businesses affected by the foot-and-mouth crisis.

The money will be used by local authorities to grant rate relief to as many as 20,000 businesses throughout Wales - mainly those with links to agriculture and tourism.

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