10 April 2001
Farmers incensed by smoke and fire

By Jeremy Hunt

FARMERS in Cumbria are incensed at a decision to start burning 3000 cattle a day because they believe the smoke could spread foot-and-mouth disease.

The National Farmers Union and local livestock producers claim they were not consulted before the Ministry of Agriculture decided to burn the cattle.

Most farmers found out from the television news.

The site, at a disused airfield adjacent to farmland east of Longtown, saw the first pyres lit on Monday (9 April) despite an urgent plea from farmers.

Keith Twentyman of Cumbria NFU said assurances were still needed concerning the infectivity levels of smoke bellowing from the fire.

He said: “We have no assurance from MAFF that a full risk assessment of this mass burning site has been undertaken.

“Farmers are very concerned about the risk of infection carried by smoke.

Farmers who have fallen victim to foot-and-mouth trace their farms were engulfed by smoke from pyres burning several miles away two weeks ago.

Mr Twentyman said the direction of the wind was a major concern and also the rate at which cattle on the top of the pyre were incinerated by the flames.

“Whichever way the wind blows the surrounding areas of Longtown are going to be affected by the smoke,” he said.

Livestock farmers in south-west Scotland believe that smoke could spread across the Solway Firth from the burning pyres in Cumbria, said Mr Twentyman.

“And many farmers are worried that the sheer scale of the pyre will mean that cattle on the top – the last to burn – will be heated up more slowly,” he said.

“They fear these carcasses will emit high levels of infection as they smoulder for a long period before being actually burned.”

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage