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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 August 2007, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Foot-and-mouth restrictions eased
Tests at a farm in Kent showed its animals did not have the disease
Restrictions on animal movements brought in after the Surrey outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease have been eased.

Farmers in England will be able to move calving cows and their calves under tight restrictions from Saturday.

Chief veterinary officer Debby Reynolds issued the movement licence "to help resolve animal welfare issues" that had arisen in the dairy sector.

Restrictions will remain in place within the protection and surveillance zones around affected farms in Surrey.

Strict biosecurity

Tough controls on livestock movement were put in place after the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease two weeks ago.

Restrictions on taking animals to abattoirs have already been lifted but many movements of livestock - such as sending animals to market - are still banned in England.

A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the new licence would allow cows around the time of calving and their calves to be moved up to 50km.

Animals would have to be checked for signs of foot-and-mouth before being moved and strict biosecurity measures would have to be adhered to, Defra said.

There were issues over animal welfare because cows would be giving birth away from their usual farm base, Defra said.

Foot-and-mouth has been confirmed at two farms near Guildford within a 10km (6.2 mile) surveillance zone in Surrey, and two further farms in the county have been found clear of the disease.

Data analysed

Further tests on cattle at a farm in Romney Marsh, Kent, and on animals at Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey have also proved negative.

The government is awaiting the results of independent tests on soil from the outbreak site near Guildford.

The Health and Safety Executive said it had received the results of the tests from the Pirbright laboratory site and would report back to ministers once the data had been analysed.

Leading microbiologist Professor Hugh Pennington said on Sunday that the foot-and-mouth outbreak could effectively be over by this weekend if no new cases emerged.

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