4 May 2001
Carcass disposal is ‘expensive farce’

By Robert Davies and John Burns

THE disposal of thousands of animals slaughtered because of foot-and-mouth disease faces increased opposition from local residents and farmers.

A series of mistakes has prompted renewed fears that disposal methods will spread the disease and wreck the environment.

In Wales, emergency efforts to deal with blood leaking from 1500 sheep carcasses buried on a Powys farm have turned into an expensive farce.

Tenant farmer Richard Tutton said effluent seeping through soil over a pit at Buttington Hall, Welshpool, was “bubbling like a witchs cauldron”.

The Welsh Assembly ordered the carcasses to be dug up. Civil servants want the animals disposed of on-site using a mobile incinerator.

But Mr Tutton said: “There is no guarantee that it will cope with the semi-liquefied material that will be dug out of the pit after nearly six weeks.”

He estimated the final bill from the fiasco could top 500,000.

His land is covered with 1000 tonnes of stone chipping laid to support the incinerator, and a field is badly contaminated.

He said: “The scandalous events of the last week have been devastating.”

In Co Durham, more than 1000 rotting carcasses may be dug up after another burial blunder left blood dripping from drainage pipes at Tow Law.

A land drain had been accidentally cut on the day the animals were buried.

And in north Devon, the Army is meeting fierce opposition to a “carcass collection centre” it is constructing at Westlake Farm, near Oakford.

An Army spokesman said the site was being developed so non-infected carcasses could be stored at the site before being taken to rendering plants.

But farmers and other rural businesses fear lorries transporting the carcasses could spread foot-and-mouth.

They feel the Army and the Ministry of Agriculture have ridden roughshod over opposition and that the site will result in pollution and scar the landscape.

Mike Williams, a leading protester, said: “This is a huge site.”

However, site owner Richard Stevens was unrepentant about offering his land to the Army. “Someone has to have it, so it might as well be me.”

An Army spokesman admitted the State Veterinary Service had voiced some reservations about the site and would be re-consulted before it was used.

Protests are being stepped up at carcass disposal sites elsewhere in Devon.

They include a site for 18 earth barrows near Meeth which have capacity for 360,000 sheep and a landfill site for 50,000 sheep at Torrington.


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