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Friday, August 28, 1998 Published at 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK


Protesters fail to stop live exports

A protester shouts "Shame" at the lorry drivers as they arrive at Dover

Protesters at the port of Dover have failed to prevent a boat, chartered by Welsh farmers to export live lambs, from leaving for the continent.

The Cap D'Afrique has been hired by the farmers after the main English Channel ferry companies refused to handle livestock in the wake of protests by animal rights campaigners in 1994.

The vessel, which is making two trips a week between Dover and Dunkirk, carries up to 26 lorries a time or 11,000 animals.

'We would prefer to export animals on the hook'

Terry Bayliss: "The situation is serious for the farming community"
Welsh farmers' spokesman Terry Bayliss said they would prefer to export sheep carcasses but he said European slaughterhouses and livestock traders want live animals.

He said: "In an ideal world it would be nice to send them dead but they don't want them dead. There is a market for live lambs and we've got to fill it."

[ image: Terry Bayliss...says the boat is chartered until at least January]
Terry Bayliss...says the boat is chartered until at least January
But Dr Julia Wrathall, the RSPCA's senior scientific officer, said animals should not travel more than eight hours to be slaughtered and need not be exported.

She said: "Among the animals being exported are pigs and they are especially poor travellers. They get highly stressed and because they cannot sweat they are in trouble when temperatures reach 19° Celsius."

The BBC's Caroline Evans: "A small but vocal presence"
Compassion In World Farming spokesman, Peter Stevenson, said the trade was "immensely cruel" and should be brought to an end.

He said the farmers' argument was flawed and said the simple truth was that they got a higher price for a live animal than a carcass.

Both sides say the lack of competition caused by the reduction in exports has affected market prices.

'Horrendous conditions in continental abattoirs'

Mr Stevenson said farmers were showing a "cynical disregard for the welfare of their animals" and knew full well of the horrendous conditions in many French and Spanish abattoirs.

He said pigs, which often vomit and dehydrate on long journeys, were also being exported and he said when the ban on UK beef was lifted farmers would begin exporting British calves for the "cruel" veal trade again.

Mr Stevenson predicted demonstrations would not reach the level they did in 1994 - when there were rowdy protests at Brightlingsea, Essex and Shoreham, Sussex - because many people found lambs less appealing than calves.

'British legislation would be shot down in Europe'

He accepted the government had tightened up standards since coming to power but said: "If they felt strongly enough about it they could get a special derogation from Europe to ban the trade."

A Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food spokesman denied this was the case and said if Britain introduced legislation to ban live exports it would be "shot down" in the European courts and London would end up paying compensation to the farmers.

He said: "The government would like to see an end to live exports but we are unable to bring that about within the structures of European legislation."

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