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BBC Wales's rural affairs correspondent Nia Thomas
"With the financial losses in Wales mounting, the rural taskforce will look at ways in which to help"
 real 56k

BBC Wales's Tim Richards reports
"The burial operation at Epynt is now set to go ahead"
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BBC Wales's rural affairs correspondent Nia Thomas
"The announcement of three livestock markets closing down is a hammer blow to the industry at this time"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Farm disease focus switches to tourism
guest house vacancy sign
Rural Wales has been hit heavily by the outbreak
Concerns about the future of the tourism industry in Wales will be discussed by the government's foot-and-mouth rural crisis taskforce in London.

Prime Minister Tony Blair spent two hours listening to tourism representatives during a visit to Wales on Tuesday and pledged to act to re-open more parts of the countryside.

Crisis in Wales
Total confirmed cases UK-wide 1005 - with 57 in Wales
Powys - 35 cases
Anglesey - 13 cases
Monmouthshire - 11 cases

The industry in Wales is losing millions of pounds each week and businesses want efforts stepped up to attract visitors who are staying away because of foot-and-mouth restrictions.

Wales's Deputy First Minister Michael German will attend Wednesday's meeting of the rural taskforce.

"If we can re-assure people and clearly see the end in sight, then I think we can look forward to visitors coming back, but it is not an easy task," said Mr German.

The team of ministers has been created up by Environment Minister Michael Meacher to look at the effects of the outbreak and find ways of addressing problems in Wales and the rest of the UK.

Farmers have reacted angrily to news that three livestock markets will be closing in north Wales.

Auctioneers Bob Parry said the foot-and-mouth crisis had been "the final straw".

In mid Wales, protests against a planned burial of thousands of animal carcasses at Sennybridge, mid Wales, have failed to halt the operation, with the first lorries expected to arrive at the site in the next 24 hours.

The mass operation had been delayed after police sealed off the main road as a crime scene, following an incident in which a man drove a digger over a police van.

Steven Andrew Morgan, 27, from Llandovery, has been charged with the attempted murder of PC John Stone, who suffered minor injuries.

FUW deputy president Glyn Powell has told residents at nearby Trecastle - who have also staged protests - that his union had evidence that up to one million carcasses could be buried on the Epynt ranges.

Mr Powell said the disposal operation could go on for months.

Fears that the rivers Towy, Usk and Wye could be polluted by the burial of carcasses could be taken up with the European Union, he added.

Trecastle villagers
Villagers near Epynt have protested at carcass disposal plans
The assembly has denied the NFU's figures of 1m animals, stating the pits would hold just 180,000 carcasses. But a pit of a similar size could be dug on the ranges.

In north Wales, MAFF has confirmed laboratory tests on samples from three confirmed cases have come back negative.

A spokesperson said on site clinical tests showed definite signs of the disease and the anomoly has been blamed on low levels of virus in the samples sent for analysis.

Meanwhile, a dozen protesters have ended a blockade of the road outside the Owen G Owen abattoir at St Asaph, north Wales, to halt lorries from Scotland delivering livestock.

They feared that the lorries have travelled through areas of Scotland and Cumbria which are infected with foot-and-mouth.

As the UK-wide cull intensifies, the government's scientific adviser Professor David King will present Tony Blair with evidence that the rate of infection is starting to slow down.

But he is expected to warn of a long haul ahead before the disease is eradicated.

National Assembly for Wales foot-and-mouth helpline 02920 825572

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