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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 11:03 GMT
Powys firms' bid for virus damages
Rural economy crisis graphics
Rural business leaders are to launch a multi-million pound compensation claim against the UK government for losses incurred during the foot-and-mouth crisis.

The UK Rural Business Campaign - which has its roots in Powys, mid Wales - is seeking "justice" for thousands of rural firms, which have suffered heavy losses this year.
ewe
The virus cull in Wales had a huge impact on businesses

On Monday, the campaign group is due to lobby MPs at the House of Commons in London.

Business leaders from Wales met in Brecon last week to discuss compensation measures.

It is estimated by the English and Welsh Tourist boards that the rural leisure industry has lost 5.1bn in turnover since the outbreak of the virus in February.

Businesses in Powys alone claim it has cost the area 50m.

Crisis in Wales
Total confirmed cases UK-wide 2,030 - with 118 in Wales
Powys - 78 cases
Anglesey - 13 cases
Monmouthshire - 21 cases
Caerphilly - 2
Rhondda Cynon Taff - 1
Neath Port Talbot -1
Newport - 3

Thousands affiliated rural businesses have also suffered huge losses and many small companies have been forced out of business.

The Powys Rural Business Campaign - representing 300 firms from hoteliers to shopkeepers - was the springboard for the UK campaign.

The downturn in trade in Powys, where 78 virus cases were confirmed and 15,000 animals slaughtered, saw some businesses suffer up to 70% losses in trade.
Peter Ainsworth MP
Peter Ainsworth MP: Critical of government

The network of businesses is paying for a barrister to spearhead its case and compensation claims could run into billions of pounds.

Tory shadow environment minister Peter Ainsworth will meet the rural business campaigners to discuss their concerns.

Mr Ainsworth has accused the government of failing to get a grip on the original foot-and-mouth outbreak.

"Not only farming has been affected - massive damage has been inflicted on thousands of small businesses which are the lifeblood of the countryside.

"The government is blind to the misery and hardship caused by the outbreak."

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Peter Ainsworth, Shadow environment minister
"The collateral damage done to bring the crisis under control on firms was immense"
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