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Monday, 26 November, 2001, 21:36 GMT
'Relief' as Devon's shadow lifted
Cows grazing in front of pyres, AP
The "dark shadow" of foot-and-mouth begins to lift
Devon has been declared free of foot-and-mouth disease.

Restrictions on moving stock around the second worst-affected county were lifted at midnight on Monday and the way cleared for exports to be resumed.

The announcement was made by officials at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Farmers' leaders expressed their delight at the news.

'Dark shadow lifted'

Anthony Gibson, director of the National Farmers' Union for the South West, said it was the news everyone had been waiting for.

"It's a huge relief, it's wonderful news," he said.

"A long dark shadow has been lifted from the Devon countryside.

"The plague has passed, we're free, it's a wonderful feeling."

Lambs in mud
Lifting restrictions will improve conditions
The announcement came after an additional week's delay because Defra was awaiting several blood test results from the county.

The NFU blamed Defra officials for causing the delay by "sheer incompetence".

Devon had 173 cases of the disease, the last of which was confirmed in June.

But some farms were found to have livestock with foot-and-mouth antibodies, which further delayed the declaration of disease-free status.

See also:

01 Nov 01 | England
Defra staff suspended
29 Oct 01 | England
Minister defends disease strategy
11 Oct 01 | England
Cull was 'chaos and a shambles'
11 Oct 01 | England
Vicar warns of disease's scars
04 Oct 01 | England
Council inquiry to be webcast
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