BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 10:38 GMT
Final area loses infected status
sheep in field
Movements of sheep will remain restricted
Britain moved a step closer to being clear of foot-and-mouth disease after the last "infected area" was downgraded by agriculture officials.

Almost 1,500 farms across a huge area of the north of England are now classed only as "high risk" by officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The announcement will free farmers in Cumbria, North Yorkshire and County Durham from some of the restrictions imposed since the disease took hold in February.

But many say it will still be "a long time" before the north counties would be able to declare themselves foot-and-mouth free.


Things seems to be happening quickly now and I hope it won't be too long before we can celebrate at last

Steve Dunning, farmer

Gill Shearer, National Farmers' Union spokesman, told BBC News Online: "It is a step in the right direction, and means the most onerous restrictions have now been lifted.

"However farmers are still under stock movement restrictions, particularly in bringing in sheep from other high-risk or at-risk counties.

"There is one particular breed, the Swaledale, that is found in Northumberland, Durham, and North Yorkshire, but cannot be moved to Cumbria.

Blood testing

"We hope to have foot-and-mouth disease-free status sometime in the New Year, but we still have a long way to go before we are there."

The disappearance of the last "infected area" in Britain comes nine months after the start of the epidemic.

It has been six weeks since the last reported case of foot-and-mouth disease.

Lord Whitty: "Momentous achievement"

The decision to downgrade to "high-risk" came after extensive blood testing of sheep and clinical examination of cattle in the Brough and Kirkby Stephen area.

It brings the area into line with the rest of north England.

Steve Dunning, a dairy and sheep farmer within the area of Cumbria affected, warned the time had not yet come to celebrate.

He said: "It has been a very expensive, frustrating time but things seems to be happening quickly now and I hope it won't be too long before we can celebrate at last."

Defra Minister Lord Whitty said: "The lifting of the last remaining "infected area" in the country is a momentous achievement and reflects a great deal of hard work by teams on the ground.

'Strict biosecurity'

"We are not out of the woods yet. A number of counties in northern England have yet to be classified as foot-and-mouth disease-free, pending further testing of sheep flocks in the surveillance zones.

"I would urge everyone to remember that strict biosecurity is as essential now as it has ever been."

Cumbria was the worst hit county in Britain during the epidemic with 843 confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth disease.

Ray Anderson, Defra regional operations director for Cumbria, said: "This is the moment Cumbria has been waiting for all year. The lifting of " infected area" restrictions is the first step for the farming industry in Cumbria to get back to business as usual."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Richard Bilton
"A crucial development"
NFU President Ben Gill
"We must not be complacent"


Analysis

Background

AUDIO VIDEO

CLICKABLE GUIDES

FORUM

INTERNET LINKS
See also:

29 Nov 01 | UK
26 Nov 01 | England
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes