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Last Updated: Friday, 14 September 2007, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Farm disease restrictions eased
Farmers in England still cannot move their livestock
Restrictions on the movement of animals in Wales and Scotland imposed after the latest foot-and-mouth outbreak in Surrey have been eased.

Farmers in England are hoping for a similar easing of the movement ban outside the current restricted zones.

A movement ban was put in place across Britain when cattle on land in Egham were found to be infected on Wednesday.

Tests showed the outbreak involved the same strain of the disease that infected herds last month.

The administrations in Wales and Scotland have eased the movement restrictions to allow farmers to take livestock direct to slaughter.

Animals can still not be traded or moved for any other reason.

Zones are imposed around a number of sites in Surrey after new foot and mouth outbreak

The Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones said the decision was a "proportionate" response.

Farmers say the easing of the total ban will ease the backlog of animals already sold, and will particularly help pig farmers who supply animals under long-term contracts.

The move could also help to avert any possible meat shortages in the shops.

Chief vet Dr Debby Reynolds has said she will look at easing movement restrictions on a regional basis in areas of low risk.

'Precautionary' cull

Farmers said the latest outbreak was "much worse" than last month's, because it had come at a time when livestock farmers needed to move their animals, and send them to market.

National Farmers' Union president Peter Kendall said the restrictions would have "enormous economic consequences" for the already struggling livestock industry.

The area at the centre of the outbreak is grazing land attached to Milton Park farm, while the animals were owned by Hardwick Park farm.

Restrictions sign
Protection zone (3km) - all premises containing livestock inspected by vets, and subject to restrictions on movements of animals, animal products, some vehicles, and some activities
Surveillance zone (10km) - restrictions on movements of susceptible animals, animal products, manure, and some activities. No restrictions on the movement of non-susceptible animals such as pets, vehicles, or slaughter for private consumption

A 10km (6.2 mile) control zone has been set up around the area.

Cattle have been culled at the infected farm, and there has been a second "precautionary" cull of animals on nearby Stroude Farm, owned by Ernest Ward.

Mr Ward's son, Steven Ward, confirmed that 800 pigs and 40 cattle were being culled at the farm.

The infected cattle in the latest outbreak were on a farm about 10 miles from the Pirbright research site, blamed as the source for the foot-and-mouth outbreaks at two farms last month.

Dr Reynolds said on Thursday the strain found at Egham was "generally" the same as the strain in the earlier outbreak.

Scientists investigating the latest outbreak are working on the possibility it was carried by soil or through the air, and was not a water-borne transmission.

'Tragic misjudgement'

The disease was confirmed in Egham only a week after the previous restrictions on cattle movements were lifted.

The government is facing criticism that it was too quick to declare Britain foot-and-mouth free last week.

It has denied that Dr Reynolds was pressurised into giving the all-clear too early after the last outbreak.

The foot-and-mouth virus is less symptomatic in sheep so an infection from the first outbreak could have been overlooked
The virus can survive in soil for up to 28 days
It can also survive in water for up to 50 days
Foot-and-mouth can also linger in hay and straw for up to 20 weeks
It could be a new strain of the virus, but experts say this is unlikely

But shadow environment secretary Peter Ainsworth said the matter "does raise further questions about why the government felt able to declare that foot-and-mouth disease had been 'eradicated'. This was clearly a tragic misjudgement".

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has said there is "absolutely no truth" in Conservative leader David Cameron's suggestion that the chief veterinary officer had been pressured to declare Britain clear of the disease too soon.

The European Commission has banned all live animals susceptible to foot-and-mouth from being exported from Britain. Northern Ireland is exempt from the ban, and can export freely.

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