The Scottish Government has announced a further easing of movement restrictions on cattle and sheep.

Scottish farmers can now move animals to designated collection centres for onward movement to slaughter. NFU Scotland welcomed the move as “very good news.”

“Single pick-ups, whilst helping to maintain the throughput of stock to abattoirs, is a real problem for those with smaller batches of animals, particularly the more remote they are. 

“Collection centres also help the hauliers who are having to make far more journeys than normal but whilst still being caught up in the same strict drivers’ hours rules,” said James Withers, NFUS deputy chief executive.

Sheep and cattle have been shipped between Orkney and Shetland during the weekend following a relaxation of the rules to allow livestock from the islands to be moved to a single premises on the Scottish mainland. A further relaxation of the movement to slaughter rules means pigs may be collected from more than one premises during a single movement to slaughter.

However, NFUS is exasperated by the decision by the Department for Transport to once again turn down the request to relax drivers hours.

“We understand that once again the UK Government has turned down the Scottish Government and industry request for a temporary relaxation of drivers rules,” said Mr Withers.

“We are at a loss to understand why they have their heads in the sand on this.  The problem might not be on their doorstep, nor is it at crisis point yet. But as soon as markets re-open north of the border the relief at being able to move stock on a larger scale is going to be short-lived if the transport just isn’t there.”