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"The government admits there is concern about the release of dioxins"
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Irving Cleave, Farmer close to the pyre
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Sunday, 22 April, 2001, 05:59 GMT 06:59 UK
Focus back on foot-and-mouth pyres
Burning carcasses in Cumbria
Health fears over burnings are growing
The burning of 11,000 animal carcasses on a huge pyre in Devon is expected to get under way on Sunday after the government reached a compromise with local residents.

Last weekend saw protests from residents who feared the town would have to be evacuated if the wind changed during the burning process.

But after meetings with the Ministry of Agriculture (Maff) it was decided the pyre at Holsworthy in north Devon would only be lit twice instead of allowing it to burn continuously for several weeks.

At Langrigg in Cumbria a pyre of 900 cattle carcasses is being dismantled after the local health authority suspended the burning process because of similar fears about windborne spread.
Crisis in the UK
Cases on Saturday: 14
Total confirmed cases: 1,429

With the number of confirmed cases at 1,429, the government said the backlog of slaughtered animals in Cumbria was almost clear, and foot-and-mouth disease was coming "firmly under control".

But health fears surrounding the burning and burial of carcasses have been growing, particularly in Devon.

Protesters who attended a meeting in the village of Petrockstowe said decomposing carcasses due to be buried at nearby Ashmoor Pit in would contaminate the surrounding land for years.

But the government has ordered that the burial of 400,000 carcasses should proceed at the site.

Animal rights demo

The campaign for animals to be vaccinated against foot-and-mouth is also gaining momentum.

On Saturday hundreds of animal rights protesters marched on Downing Street to call for an end to the "cruelty" of the government's foot-and-mouth slaughter policy.

Among them was Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley, who said the public had been "misled" about slaughter. She said vaccination was the only way to end the "hideous crisis".

Joanna Lumley (centre left) and singer Lynsey De Paul (centre right) outside No. 10
Animal rights campaigners say slaughter is "cruel"

The government has made it clear it wants to introduce a vaccination programme, initially of 180,000 cattle in Cumbria.

But it has indicated it will not undertake such a scheme without the backing of at least 60% of farmers.

There has also been a backlash against farmers' leaders who oppose vaccination on the grounds that long-term exports would be hit.

Influential groups and charities have accused the National Farmers' Union of "letting down" its members by refusing to co-operate with proposals to innoculate cattle in the worst-affected areas.

Those at Saturday's Downing Street rally heard that vaccination would not only be cheaper, but it would offer long-term protection against future outbreaks.

Joyce D'Silva, director of Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), said the cost to the tourism industry of the foot-and-mouth crisis was far greater than the possible loss to the exports industry if vaccination was introduced.

Tourism figures

But the meltdown feared in the English tourism industry over Easter did not materialise, initial figures released on Sunday have suggested.
Koji Shinmachi, Janet Anderson, and Richard Copland, at Heathrow
Britain is hosting a delegation of overseas tour operators

Far from the empty beds and deserted attractions feared by many in the run-up to the first weekend of the holiday season, English tourist destinations reported business at around 70-80% of last year, Whitehall sources said.

A joint report passed to the government's Cobra foot-and-mouth emergency response team on Friday showed that most people appeared to have got the message that the disease had not shut down England's tourist venues, the source said.

On Sunday Maff will begin investigating the grid reference error which led to the unnecessary slaughter of 500 sheep.

Farmers Wayne and Julie Nuttall have condemned the government department for gross incompetence and have demanded compensation.

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20 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Red carpet for tourist leaders
20 Apr 01 | UK
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