5 May 1995

Live exports hidden agenda fear

LIVESTOCK traders fear overzealous government officials are trying to halt live exports through Dover.

Some exporters and hauliers claim the advantage of using the shortest route to mainland Europe has been wiped out because animals have to be loaded three hours before sailing. Lorries are then subjected to intensive scrutiny by trading standards officers, MAFF vets and police vehicle inspectors. Traders fear the government has a hidden agenda and is using these tactics to make the live export trade unworkable.

Once lorries are loaded they are inspected with a fine-tooth comb, said one exporter. "If even the slightest thing is wrong with a lorry, like having a faulty interior light, the inspectors will turn it away," he added.

Peter Gilder, who runs the ferry Cap Canaille from Dover, said it was perfectly right that lorries should conform to all safety standards. But the same rules were not applied at all ports.

MAFF dismissed the allegations as "absolute nonsense". A spokesman said it wanted live exports to continue, with the best welfare standards.

The Shoreham sailing limit has forced export consortium, Intern-ational Traders Ferries, to move its Northern Cruiser to Dover. &#42