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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK
Animal pyres must end, says plan
A cow is lowered on to a pyre during the foot-and-mouth epidemic
Scenes like this would not be repeated in a new outbreak
The countryside should be kept open and pyre burning and mass burials of animals must end, under the latest plan on how Wales would deal with another foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Instead it recommends vaccination of livestock and incineration of carcasses

The last foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001 cost Welsh farming 100m and saw more than a million animals destroyed.

The old plan on how to handle an epidemic was rewritten after an exercise last year.

As policies develop and circumstances change we consider these and update the plan
Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones

The major differences in the new plan include a call for a presumption in favour of access to the countryside for the public during a disease.

During 2001, people were encouraged to stay away from rural areas, but many tourism businesses saw their income badly cut, with many arguing their industry suffered most in the crisis.

The new strategy is aimed at keeping as much of the countryside working as possible.

Sean Rickard, a former chief economist for the National Farmers' Union, said these proposals were moving "towards reality".

Mr Rickard told BBC Radio Wales: "The big mistake last time was to close down the countryside."

But he said that while the new plan meant that rural areas were no longer considered a "prima donna", there was a danger that they would be slightly more at risk of foot-and-mouth.

The blueprint also says vaccination would be part of the strategy to control the disease.

This was one of the most contentious issues in Wales during the 2001 epidemic.

Foot-and-mouth warning sign
The revised plan calls for improved communications during an outbreak

The new contingency plan also recognises one of the main problems of that outbreak - the protests against the mass burials and burning of carcasses on pyres.

It says incineration and rendering should be the preferred methods of disposal.

The plan also calls for better communication and includes the appointment of an operations director in Wales.

The UK rural affairs ministry, Defra, has responsibility for co-ordinating the response to an epidemic, but this is expected to change in November.

Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones welcomed the plan, saying it made Wales "ready and prepared" for any possible new outbreak.

'Update plan'

He said: "The plan we have in place has always been a 'living' document.

"As policies develop and circumstances change we consider these and update the plan."

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) said that although it welcomed the publication of the plan, it was concerned about public access to the countryside being permitted in the event of an outbreak.

FUW Director of Policy, Arwyn Owen, said: "We still have some concerns about certain details.

"For example, the plan states that in the event of an outbreak the countryside should be kept open and there will be a presumption in favour of access being maintained.

"However, we strongly believe the presumption should be in favour of disease control consistent with reasonable access."


SEE ALSO:
Foot-and-mouth plans tested
30 Sep 03  |  Wales
Lawyers damn FMD handling
27 Aug 03  |  Wales


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