Disease strikes after footpath warning

14 May 2001

Disease strikes after footpath warning

By Donald MacPhail

A FARMER who warned that re-opening footpaths to the public would put his farm at risk from foot-and-mouth has been hit by the disease.

The outbreak is one of five cases of foot-and-mouth confirmed around Settle in the past few days, 15 miles from previous outbreaks in North Yorkshire.

It throws into doubt the wisdom of a joint campaign by the National Farmers Union and the Ramblers Association to re-open footpaths in unaffected areas.

Thomas Lord accused Yorkshire Dales National Park officials of failing to consult over the re-opening of walled lanes within the park earlier this month.

It was a contradiction for farmers to keep up precautions when footpaths were being opened with no disinfectant facilities put in place, said Mr Lord.

Mr Lord, of Lower Winskill Farm, Langcliffe, near Settle, had his worst fears confirmed when the disease was confirmed on his farm on Friday (11 May).

Ministry of Agriculture officials are investigating the source of the new cases, but have not ruled out the possibility that walkers spread the disease.

Ironically, this coincides with a joint campaign by the National Farmers Union and Ramblers Association to encourage the re-opening of footpaths.

A statement from the organisations urges local councils to assess as quickly as possible which footpaths can be re-opened in time for the May Bank Holiday, Monday, 28 May.

NFU vice president Michael Paske said disease controls should not be compromised but added that tourists contributed to the rural economy.

“I expect there are many footpaths that can be safely re-opened to the benefit of users and the wider rural community,” he said.

“I encourage local authorities to work with farmers and ramblers to identify these safe routes quickly.”

The Ramblers Association said it supported the NFU in its call to keep risk areas closed to the public while the efforts to halt the disease are in place.


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