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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 August 2007, 07:32 GMT 08:32 UK
Countryside 'open' stresses Jones
Sheep at a farm in Brecon
There is an extra level of protection after the 2001 outbreak
Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones has stressed Wales remains open despite the restrictions resulting from the foot-and-mouth case in England.

All animal movements throughout the UK have been banned following the disease's discovery on a Surrey farm.

In response some agricultural events in Wales have been cancelled while others have stopped livestock competitions.

Mr Jones insisted there were "no plans for a blanket closure of footpaths" and rural Wales was there to be enjoyed.

Wales was badly affected in the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak when more than 350,000 animals were slaughtered.

A large swathe of the countryside was also closed to visitors, cancelling major events like the Royal Welsh Show.

But Ieuan Wyn Jones said the assembly government now has a "well-rehearsed contingency plan" to deal with any foot-and-mouth outbreak, which was part of the overall UK strategy, and that has been implemented.

ADVICE FOR FARMERS
Warning signs near the Surrey farm
Defra Helpline: 0845 9335577
Animal Health Offices - Caernarfon: 01286 674144
Carmarthen: 01267 245400; 07000 780144 (eve)
Cardiff: 029 20 768500

A national ban on livestock movement in Wales, has been in place since 2130 BST on Friday, when the Surrey case was confirmed.

North Wales Police have confirmed that a load of sheep were delivered to Anglesey on Saturday under licence having left Oxfordshire. They were checked on A55 at Llanfairfechan and were found to be all legal.

Sixty cattle have been culled in Surrey after testing positive for foot-and-mouth and a 3km protection zone put in place to try to stop the spread of the disease.

The strain has been identified by Defra as being identical to that used at the Institute for Animal Health, at Pirbright, about three miles from the farm.

Mr Jones said this development had made him more optimistic that the disease would not spread to Wales.

But he added:" Clearly we now know that this is the strain used in Pirbright, but we still need to be clear about the source of the outbreak, and once that is in place then obviously we can take some clear steps."

The assembly's rural affairs minister Elin Jones has cut short her holiday in New Zealand and is returning to Wales on Sunday.

But Mr Jones said a number of lessons have been learnt since 2001.

"For example, we now have a routine six-day standstill following the movement of susceptible animals onto a farm. This has provided an extra level of protection we didn't have in 2001.

"We have advice for farmers on our website on the disease and on biosecurity."

"I would urge farmers to continue to be vigilant and to report any suspicious signs in their animals to their local animal health offices," the deputy first minister said.

Sheep at a farm in Brecon
Farmers have been asked to remain vigilant

Farmer's leaders in Wales have praised the authorities' swift response to the latest case of foot-and-mouth.

Dai Davies, president of the National Farmer's Union Cymru, welcomed the identification of the strain involved in the Surrey case, but added:"After BSú and the foot-and-mouth of 2001, it's the last thing we need at this moment in time when we are finding a foothold back in our historical export countries."

Gareth Vaughan, president of the Farmers' Union of Wales, said: "A significant number of lessons were learnt following the 2001 outbreak, and we must now hope that the significant contingency planning that has occurred over recent years will prove its worth."

'No threat'

On Saturday the Gower Show, which was expecting 10,000 visitors, was cancelled, along with cattle and sheep competitions at the Brecon Show.

A cattlemarket at Whitland in Carmarthenshire was also called off as was the Llangeinor Hunt Game Fair, which was due to take place at Pencoed near Bridgend on Sunday.

However, organisers of the Anglesey Show which is due to be held on 14 and 15 August have said it will go ahead - even if animals are not allowed.

The Pembrokeshire Show which is due to be staged on 14-16 August is also unaffected.

The National Eisteddfod, the annual festival celebrating the Welsh language, is still taking place on agricultural land at Mold in Flintshire this week

Eisteddfod chief executive Elfed Roberts said: "We've already held talks with the government and we will wait for their advice. But there is no threat to the festival."




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