The RSPCA has welcomed news that councillors will launch an inquiry into the live animal export trade at Dover port.

The animal welfare charity said it was pleased that Dover District Council will open a full investigation into the trade.

Live exports resumed from Dover to France last May following two years of operating out of Ramsgate port.

Since then, the RSPCA said more than 100 lorries, carrying more than 40,000 live animals in total, have passed through its docks.

The charity has been calling for an end to all live transport and for all meat to be transported “on the hook”.

However, the NFU has insisted that the live exports were a “perfectly legal, legitimate and valuable trade” for English farmers.

NFU South East spokesman Frank Langrish, a sheep farmer and haulier, said there is increased demand from Europe for both UK breeding livestock and animals destined for the food chain.

“So long as these exports continue it is important that the well-being of the animals is fully monitored at the port.”
Charlie Elphicke, Dover’s Conservative MP

The RSPCA has been lobbying both Dover Harbour Board and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) to allow its inspectors in to Dover port to monitor the well-being of the animals, as they were in Ramsgate.

At a meeting of Dover District Council held in July, 2013 Councillor Mike Eddy proposed a motion to oppose the resumption of live farm animal exports to continental Europe from the port of Dover and vowed to lobby Dover Harbour Board to grant RSPCA inspectors access to the port to inspect any future shipments of live animals.

This motion is now being looked at by the council’s scrutiny committee, which has been welcomed by the RSPCA.

“We welcome that Dover District Council have begun the inquiry and the RSPCA will be submitting evidence,” said Lenny Rolles, RSPCA senior parliamentary adviser.

Dover Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke said: “I welcome Cllr Eddy’s support of the RSPCA and my campaign to put an end to cruel live animal exports.

“So long as these exports continue it is important that the well-being of the animals is fully monitored at the port.”

Following an incident at Ramsgate in September, more than 40 sheep, considered by RSPCA officials as lame, were put down.

Last month, a judge ordered a live export company and its director Thomas Lomas to pay £19,000 for its role in the incident.