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South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay to introduce bill on animal exports at Ramsgate port to House of Commons today

A bill is being introduced to the House of Commons today in an attempt to change the law and allow councils to ban live animal exports from ports that they own.

It comes after Thanet District Council tried to scrap the controversial practice from Ramsgate in 2012 after 47 sheep died at the port.

The attempt was met with High Court action and the council were found to be in breach of the Harbours Act dated 1847, which allows free use to all of port facilities.

Sheep in a transporter travelling through Ramsgate Port. Picture: Mike Pett
Sheep in a transporter travelling through Ramsgate Port. Picture: Mike Pett

At the High Court hearing in December 2013 Mr Justice Birrs said: “The suspension was an unjustifiable breach of Article 35 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union which breached a fundamental element of the rules governing free trade in the EU.”

The judge concluded by saying that in his judgment the council was liable to damages to the claimants.

Subsequently a bill of more than £5 million pounds has been paid out in compensation and legal fees by the council, revealed by a Freedom of Information request submitted by former Thanet District Councillor Ian Driver.

Ian Driver
Ian Driver

According to the figures £4,692,630 in compensation payments have been made to the companies involved in the export of live farm animals from the Port of Ramsgate.

A further £454,220 has been spent by TDC on its own legal fees, bringing the total to £5,146,850.

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay (Cons) will present his Ten Minute Rule Bill to the House of Commons today.

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay
South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay

He said: “I am bringing this important new measure forward to safeguard animal welfare as a part of the Conservative’s localism agenda.

“When local people own ports, like in Ramsgate, they ought to be able to prevent the exportation of live animals for slaughter, a practice many find barbaric, if they wish to.

“This new law would guarantee there would be no repeat of the situation in 2012, which saw my constituents having to pay vast amounts of compensation to foreign shipping companies for banning live animal exports.

“This change in the law would in all likelihood have prevented the compensation claim.”

Port of Ramsgate
Port of Ramsgate

Minister for Animal Welfare George Eustice (Cons) said: “The government wants all animals slaughtered as close as possible to where they are reared and the overwhelming majority of lamb exports to EU countries like France is of lamb meat slaughtered in the UK.

“However, there is great public concern about the continued export of live lambs across the channel for slaughter.

“Some campaigners have argued that we should amend national legislation to introduce a targeted ban on some live exports from British ports.

“However, the EU has made clear that such a ban would be against EU law.

“If we were to leave the EU a future British government would be free to consider introducing targeted restrictions of this sort on ethical grounds.”

The last animal export to leave the Port of Ramsgate was in November 2015.

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