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Live animal exports could be banned impacting Kent ports

Live animal exports could be banned under government plans set out today.

The news of a possible ban has been welcomed by campaigners in Kent and the South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay.

Live exports have been taking place at the Port of Ramsgate for several years and there has been a long-running campaign to try and get them stopped.

Sheep ready for export via the Port of Ramsgate
Sheep ready for export via the Port of Ramsgate

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay said: “This is very good news and is the opportunity to finally end a practice that very few people support and commercially does not seem viable.

"Animals get transported from Cumbria, for example, then get on a ferry and then possibly another and I just don’t see how the costs add up.”

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said while animal welfare standards were high, the government wanted to keep to their manifesto promise and improve them.

People can comment on the call for evidence about controlling live exports on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website.

Mr Gove said: "All animals deserve to get the respect and care they deserve at every stage of their lives. With all options being considered, I am keen to hear from industry, the devolved authorities and charities on all possible options and evidence on this vital issue."

Craig Mackinlay MP at Ramsgate harbour
Craig Mackinlay MP at Ramsgate harbour
Environment Secretary Michael Gove
Environment Secretary Michael Gove

Ian Driver, a campaigner from Ramsgate who was one of the first to try to halt the trade through the port and started protests in 2011, said: “This campaign has been a brilliant example of how people power can change public opinion, the policies of political parties and ultimately the law of the land.

"But for the efforts and determination of the people of Thanet, the public consultation and eventual banning of cruel live animal exports would not have happened.”

British Veterinary Association president John Fishwick said:"Animals should be transported on the hook, as meat, not on the hoof, as live animals.”

At the height of protests at Ramsgate, the costs of policing demonstrations for 60 sailings in the 18 months to the end of 2012 was £405,043.

Thanet council went to court to try to halt exports but in 2015 was forced to pay £2.3m in compensation to companies who were blocked from exporting live animals from Ramsgate Port.

The council, which owns the port, declined to comment.

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