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BBC Scotland's Jamie McIvor reports
"Pigs from farms around Buckie were taken to an abattoir near the town"
 real 56k

Sunday, 4 March, 2001, 18:26 GMT
Pigs moved as disease spreads
Smoke from a cremation pyre
Hundreds of animals are being incinerated in Scotland
The first movements of livestock from farms to an abattoir in Scotland has taken place, despite three new cases being confirmed on Sunday.

Ross Finnie confirmed consignments of pigs had been taken to an abattoir in Buckie, Morayshire, for the first time since the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease led to a transport ban.

But the rural development minister's announcement came as more cases of the disease were confirmed north of the border.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said cases had been confirmed at farms in Langholm, Lockerbie and Gretna.

Ross Finnie
Ross Finnie: Sanctioned limited movements
Sunday's movements were the first permitted under the licensing scheme introduced to allow the limited transport of unaffected animals.

The executive's scheme allows animals outside the 10-mile restriction radius at affected foot-and-mouth farms to be sent for slaughter.

It is operating under strict conditions and mirrors measures taken in England and Wales.

Meat Hygiene Service officials worked with councils all weekend to draw up the first licences.

Mr Finnie, speaking on BBC Scotland's Holyrood programme, said the licensing scheme went into effect at midnight Friday.

'Animal welfare problem'

He said: "The licensing scheme is a very strict licensing scheme which controls movements from farm direct to the abattoir under licence and under supervision.

"There are two key benefits from that. I mean we now have a large animal welfare problem arising in many many farms where calving has commenced, where we are imminently about to have the lambing season.

"We have animals on farm who were intended to have been taken to the market or the slaughterhouse well over 10 days ago, so these movements should help some of those farms.

The destruction of carcasses
The destruction of carcasses is continuing apace
"It will also, of course, mean that we start getting meat back into the food chain and back onto the shelves."

Mr Finnie also said he was pleased the Scottish cases of foot-and-mouth are all linked in some way to the initial outbreak in England.

But he refused to say the outbreak north of the border was reaching an end.

The minister said: "We are encouraged at the moment that all the cases that we have are directly linked back to the original source. We have had no random outbreaks, which would be very serious indeed.

"At the moment we've still got rather a large number of farms under supervision and there's quite a lot of work to be done before we get to the stage of saying it's all over."

'Risk assesment'

The State Veterinary Service is still carrying out investigations at a number of Scottish farms.

Despite the confirmation of new cases, it is possible that more movements are in the pipeline.

Leslie Gardiner, Scotland's assistant chief veterinary officer, said: "I think the movements of animals directly from farm to abattoir can be expected to increase.

"This is a risk assessment we have carried out and in disease control terms we consider this an acceptable movement."

Dog walkers

The new cases come as two fires continue to burn in Dumfries and Galloway to incinerate the bodies of hundreds of animals affected by the disease.

They were lit at Netherplace Farm in Lockerbie and Parkhouse Farm in Canonbie on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, police in Dumfries and Galloway said they were becoming increasingly concerned about the large number of people who are ignoring their requests to steer clear of country areas.

They said many dog walkers had failed to register the seriousness of the situation and were continuing to cross country areas.

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See also:

02 Mar 01 | Scotland
Ban relaxed despite disease crisis
02 Mar 01 | Scotland
Scottish outbreak spreads
01 Mar 01 | Scotland
Slaughter of animals begins
01 Mar 01 | Scotland
Scotland's no-go zones
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