27 October 1995

MAFF puts its transport plans up for debate

By Shelley Wright

GOVERNMENT plans to implement new European animal transport rules have been issued for consultation .

The European transport directive, agreed by farm ministers in June, will take effect from Dec 31, 1996. But MAFF says it intends to bring some measures into force in spring 1996. These include:

lA licensing scheme, for all hauliers and farmers, transporting livestock for longer than eight hours or abroad.

lCompetence requirements, likely to involve multiple choice tests, for hauliers and handlers of stock.

Loading density standards and improved enforcement mechanisms will also be included in the first stage of planned legislation.

Rules covering the other main elements of the governments consultation document including maximum journey limits, feeding, watering and rest intervals will follow in the autumn. Farm minister, Douglas Hogg, said he hoped the document would initiate "constructive discussions" with all those affected.

The EU directive applies only to journeys of more than 31 miles. The basic maximum journey time is eight hours but if vehicles meet new standards, which include ventilation and water provision, then journeys can be extended to limits dependent on the age and species of animal.

The government has ruled out the option of introducing an eight-hour absolute national limit for slaughter stock. But livestock markets could be disrupted by the directives definition of the start of a journey as the place where an animal has been rested for a minimum of 24 hours.

The document says unless markets can achieve this it will not be possible to regard them as the start point of a journey. Journey times would, therefore, normally start at a collection point or farm of origin.

MAFF proposes that "consignments composed of different groups in a market should take the earliest departure time for any individual animal in the group as their starting time".

Practical arrangements

The documents adds that it will need to consider "the possibility of requiring all animals being taken to market to be accompanied by an animal transport certificate". But MAFFsays it will first discuss the "practical arrangements" with the industry.

For animals travelling more than eight hours and beyond UK shores, journey plans must include the entire journey with all details of rest stops. These would be stamped by MAFF vets and would be carried, along with the health certificates, for the whole journey ready for inspection.

The government recognises that there may have to be special arrangements on journey times and sea crossings for remote areas like the Scottish islands.

Comments on the proposals must be submitted by Dec 15. &#42