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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 September, 2003, 03:14 GMT 04:14 UK
Port halts live exports
Sheep being transported
Millions of animals are transported every year
Police in Northumberland are investigating threats which have led to live animal exports being halted at a port in the county.

Last week, 1,700 lambs were shipped from Berwick Upon Tweed to Holland, but the port has now cancelled a second consignment.

BBC correspondent Mark Holdstock told Radio 4's Farming Today programme, last Tuesday's shipment of lambs from Berwick marked the first time live animals had been exported from the area in 50 years.

The port's harbour master said animal rights protestors swamped his office afterwards, some threatening "reactions" if shipments of live animals continued.

"Police are investigating the nature of some of the calls," he said.

"Due to these threats and possible delays caused by protestors, plans for a second consignment to Rotterdam that would have sailed out on Tuesday have now been abandoned."

The European Commission last month announced new, stricter rules on the transportation of live animals to help ease their suffering during long journeys.

If EU governments approve the plans, the existing maximum journey time of 28 hours, with a one hour break, will be cut to nine, followed by a compulsory 12-hour rest period.

The commission is also introducing a new series of checks to make it easier to prosecute offenders.

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