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No Thanet District Council appeal over Port of Ramsgate live animals ruling

By Mary Louis


Sheep ready for export via the port of Dover
Sheep ready for export via the port of Dover

Thanet District Council has decided not to appeal against the High Court decision regarding the shipment of live animals from the Port of Ramsgate.

This follows a judicial ruling which “outraged” the authority in which Mr Justice Birss said that the council did not have the authority to impose a temporary ban.

He ruled this was a disproportionate response to the events at the port on September 12 2012 when 47 sheep died.

The council had suspended the trade at Ramsgate after two sheep drowned that day and more than 40 others had to be shot after being found severely lame.

Animal export company Channel Livestock and its boss were fined thousands of pounds earlier this year for causing unnecessary suffering to animals.

Councillor Michelle Fenner said: “The council took the decision to impose a temporary ban after the incidents in September 2012. This was based on genuine concerns about the safety of our staff and the fact that the port does not have adequate facilities to cater for the welfare of animals in transit.

“However, in light of the latest legal advice we have received, we accept that we cannot take the risk of challenging the judge’s ruling in an appeal.

“Furthermore, we consider that it is the responsibility of the British Government to fight for clearer harmonisation of rules and the role of government agencies such as AHVLA and Defra.”

The council took into consideration that in the High Court, the judge ruled that the Animal Health Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) which is a Government Agency and part of DEFRA, has the total authority regarding transport of live animals

Previously, when the council had been considering appealing Cllr Fenner explained that although the council are the port owners, it had been judged: “We should not intervene in what goes on within the transit the animals at Ramsgate Port.”

She had then stated: “The terrible events at the port in September 2012 showed clearly that it was AHVLA who took the decision to unload animals (very conveniently) in our port and not to take them to a so called nearby lairage facility.

“The consequences of this unloading were that it caused havoc in our port and potentially put our staff safety at risk.

“Then collectively, as TDC administration, we decided to impose a temporary suspension of this trade whilst we sought re-assurances about the transport of animals from DEFRA /Central Government.

“We are now told by the Judge that in spite of these terrible incidents we should not have imposed this temporary ban and that we will have to compensate the associates of unscrupulous transporters who were convicted a few weeks ago for cruelty to animals.

“We are not just disappointed by this judgment, we are outraged: we are the port owners, we did not choose to have live animal exports going through our port, we did not cause the incidents of September 2012, we did not create this situation, and yet we are made to pick up the tab for the decisions and the incompetence of Government Agencies.”

The case against the “inhumane” trade of live exports has the support of South Thanet MP Laura Sandys, who has described it as “a cruel practice, too often leading to tragedy.”

There was an outrage from animal rights supporters when live animal exports resumed from Ramsgate on March 10. Dozens of protesters from Kent Association Against Live Exports vowed to continue the fight against the trade as an estimated 900 sheep awaited export to continental slaughterhouses that day.

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