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Friday, 3 August, 2001, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Farm clean-ups to resume
Closed entrance to a farm
Clean-ups were stopped amid huge cost claims
The disinfection scheme to rid farms in England and Wales of foot-and-mouth is to resume after being halted by the government amid concerns over escalating costs.

The Department of the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) have announced that cleansing and disinfection of farms suspended two weeks ago can continue.

Disease statistics
Total confirmed cases: 1,926
Premises with animals slaughtered or due to be slaughtered: 8,988
Animals slaughtered: 3,647,000
New cases on Friday: 2
Source: Defra
Officials have also confirmed that landfill sites and pyres could be used again under emergency plans to cope with a feared surge in cases.

The disinfection scheme was halted for a two-week review following the personal intervention of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Farms were costing an average of 100,000 to disinfect - compared with an estimated 30,000 in Scotland and 10,000 elsewhere in Europe.

To date only about 1,700 farms out of more than 8,000 have received final cleansing and disinfection, and only 75m has been paid out.

But it was estimated the government could be facing a final bill of more than 800m.

Cost differences

During the review the government continued preliminary cleansing and disinfecting, but stopped secondary cleansing.

Lambs in a field
About 1.5m lambs which cannot be exported are to be slaughtered
This is a more thorough cleaning, where for example cracked concrete is taken up, and buildings repaired so there are no cracks where disinfectant cannot reach.

The government is not legally required to pay for secondary cleansing, but had been doing so.

But it is believed it is now unlikely to meet all the costs of cleaning farm buildings, thus cutting its final bill to about 200m.

The review has already caused dismay among farmers.

Ministers are said to be concerned that farmers have used money to improve dilapidated buildings.

But the National Farmers' Union says the difference in cost could come from at least two other reasons.

It says Scottish farms have more sheep and therefore fewer buildings - unlike cattle they do not need to be housed over the winter.

England also has more listed farm buildings, which cannot simply be pulled down, and which require careful cleaning.

Landfill proposals

Officials have confirmed that emergency plans to slaughter and dispose of millions more animals have been drawn up amid fears the disease could re-ignite during cooler conditions in the autumn.

Pyre used earlier in the crisis
Controversial pyres may have to be pressed back into service
It is thought pyres and landfill sites could be used if new cases start to average at five a day.

In recent weeks new cases have been running at three a day, but earlier this week numbers rose to seven or eight.

But the proposals detailed in a private report were purely "contingency plans", a Defra spokeswoman stressed.

Millions slaughtered

On Thursday the government confirmed it is to slaughter more than 1.3m healthy lambs which cannot be exported because of foot-and-mouth control.

The lambs affected are smaller, "light" lambs, which are popular on the Continent but not in Britain.

More than 80,000 sheep in Cumbria are undergoing blood tests to check for signs of the disease.

And more than 5,000 sheep on the Brecon Beacons have been culled amid fears the disease could affect hundreds of thousands of animals which roam the Welsh mountain range.

The BBC's Richard Wells
"The government says an announcement is expected, but they will not say when"
Jeanette Allinson who runs a farm in Northumberland
"We think they are going to restart on Monday"
See also:

02 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Youth hostels face closure
02 Aug 01 | Scotland
Tourism boost for disease hit areas
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