THE PORT of Dover Authority has defended its role in the export of 5000 live sheep from Dover to La Rochelle on Oct 30, after criticism from animal welfare campaigners.

“It‘s perfectly legal as long as animal welfare legislation is adhered too,” said a Port of Dover spokesman.

“We shall continue to provide birthing facilities [for vessels] for the trade when availability allows.”

The shipment, which marks the first live exports from the port since Jan, has been condemned by animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming.

“CIWF is resolute in its campaign to end live exports and to replace it with a meat trade,” said CIWF communications director, Marie-Claire Davis.