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Environment correspondent Louise Batchelor
"Farmers feel they have been as vigilant as they can be"
 real 56k

BBC Scotland's Willie Johnston reports
"The area is one of the dairying heartlands of Scotland"
 real 56k

NFUS vice president John Kinnaird says
"It could be just a bit of complacency is beginning to slip in"
 real 28k

Ross Finnie says
"We are very, very concerned"
 real 28k

Monday, 9 April, 2001, 19:18 GMT 20:18 UK
Call for foot-and-mouth vigilance
Bierhope farm sign
Animals have been slaughtered on farms near Jedburgh
People in the Scottish Borders have been urged to be extra vigilant to prevent any further spread of foot-and-mouth disease.

The call came from Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie as he visited the area on Monday.

He was viewing a factory at Tweedbank, between Melrose and Galashiels, which has been turned into a co-ordination centre for the fight against the disease.

Rural Affairs minister Ross Finnie
Ross Finnie: Concerned by developments
Mr Finnie said that the authorities were not yet certain what caused the spread of foot-and-mouth to two farms near Jedburgh - at least 20 miles from any previous outbreak.

"We haven't got confirmed evidence," he said.

"Vets and epidemiologists are still working on whatever slender evidence there is.

"I think we are becoming concerned that not just in the infected area but within the at risk area, there is a real danger that individuals are quite innocently transmitting the disease."

And he said those people who had been "superb" over recent weeks would regrettably have to be asked to be even more vigilant.

Farm vehicles

The National Farmers' Union in Scotland (NFUS) has also urged vigilance as efforts continue to stop the spread of foot-and-mouth.

President Jim Walker said the spread of the disease to the Jedburgh farms - as well as a farm at Sorbie in Wigtownshire, 30 miles west of the closest outbreak - had probably been accidental.

"I think in these cases it is probably down to some accidental contamination from other farm vehicles or vehicles delivering feed to the farms.

"It has been a bit unlucky," he said.

Burning animals
Thousands of animals face slaughter
He stressed that people and vehicles going to farms had to be fully cleansed and disinfected before their visit.

Mr Walker has also pressed the case for long-term help for Scotland's farmers during an hour-long private meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He called for increased compensation payments for farmers who need to restock, and for a recovery plan for the industry once the disease has been eradicated.

Mr Walker said the industry would need to restructure - and said Mr Blair had offered his support in general.

The slaughter of animals at the two infected farms near Jedburgh has been completed, but the disposal of animals continues at adjoining farms.

Infected properties

Slaughter teams are half way through the cull of 4,500 cattle and 14,000 sheep on 10 neighbouring farms.

An estimated 15,000 sheep will also have to be killed on a further 26 farms which fall within 3km of the infected properties.

The cases in Rennieston and Bierhope farms are more than 25 miles east of the nearest infected area.

More army troops are being drafted into the area to help deal with the outbreak.

They were being deployed at farms neighbouring the two confirmed cases to supervise site preparations for the cull.

Jim Walker
Jim Walker: "Accidental contamination"
The new case in Wigtownshire, while within the Dumfries and Galloway region, is more than 30 miles west of previously confirmed cases.

Three further cases were confirmed in Dumfries and Galloway on Monday evening, taking the Scottish total to 145.

Meanwhile, a Dumfries farmer has lost his legal bid to have a full judicial review of the Scottish Executive's culling policy.

At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Tony Jackson argued that the cull of his 450 dairy cattle should not go ahead because the animals were completely healthy, although sheep on neighbouring farms had contracted the disease.

Judge Lord Hardie said he had considerable sympathy for the farmer.

Backed down

But he dismissed the application, saying that one of the consequences of not culling was that the disease may spread.

Elsewhere, clan chief John MacLeod of MacLeod has backed down and agreed to partially re-open land on his Isle of Skye estate.

Local tourism businesses had claimed restrictions on access to the Black Cuilins mountain range could deter visitors.

It is not yet clear if the concessions will be enough to satisfy campaigners who had threatened to ignore warning signs and walk on the estate's land on Tuesday in protest.

Scottish Forestry Minister Rhona Brankin has stressed on Monday that hundreds of Scotland's woodlands are now open and welcoming visitors.

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See also:

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