Compassion in World Farming has launched a new push to end live exports, fronted by actress Joanna Lumley.

The charity has unveiled a 2012 national bus advertising campaign after winning a competition which had a £200,000 bus campaign as the prize.

The advert features a bus crammed with sheep and the message: “They can’t ring the bell when they want to get off”.

CIWF said the campaign was timely as in 2011 the number of calf and sheep exports from Britain to the continent increased three-fold to more than 80,000.

Addressing the media at a launch event in Trafalgar Square on Thursday (5 Jan) Joanna Lumley said: “The numbers involved in live exports is shocking. We need to act on this ghastly trade now. 2012 is an auspicious year. This is the year for change.”

Ms Lumley said she was urging  farmers to find alternatives to the trade and she wanted to work to make it more feasible for producers to slaughter their animals closer to home.

Joanna Lumley bus advert

CIWF has said that according to Freedom of Information responses from DEFRA, the only port used for exports to the continent as of May last year was Ramsgate, Kent.

The charity is calling on the port authorities to hike their port fees in order to make lives exports less attractive.

Joyce D’Silva, director of public affairs, said: “Good farmers want to know the fate of their animals when they leave the farm. Compassion calls on the farmers who still export their animals to find a market for them in the UK and spare them the horrors of the live export trade.

“We also urge the government to fight hard at the negotiating table in Brussels to set much shorter maximum journey times for animals in transit, preferably no more than 8 hours.”