23 August 2002

Airport says No to farmer protesters

BIRMINGHAM International Airport has banned farmers from protesting against illegally imported meat during the Bank Holiday weekend.

Airport officials said allowing farmers to hand out postcards reminding travellers about illegal imports would open the door for other organisations to lobby passengers.

The initiative aims to find out what import controls travellers experience when they arrive home from their holidays.

The campaign will ask passengers to describe any import restrictions or public information about illegal food, such as posters of public announcements, as they re-enter Britain.

NFU leaders hope to use the results of the survey to lobby the government for better import controls.

Union spokesman Russell Griffin said he was bitterly disappointed by the airports decision. It was understood that Birmingham has a ban on lobbying, but the NFU had hoped a special exception would be made.

It has, however, been given permission to hand out the cards at Heathrow, Stansted and Cardiff airports. &#42

Roy Threadgold, whose livestock were slaughtered during the foot-and-mouth crisis, joined other East Anglian farmers at Stansted Airport in Essex to ask passengers for help assessing import safeguards. Illegally imported meat is widely blamed for an outbreak of swine fever two years ago as well as the F&M crisis.

Mr Threadgolds farm was the ninth holding in Essex to be contaminated with F&M last year. Since then, he has been working to build up a new flock of milking sheep.

"Unless we have effective border controls then outbreaks of F&M will happen again," he said.