Farm virus inquiry begins in Devon

8 October 2001

Farm virus inquiry begins in Devon

By Adrienne Francis

THE public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth crisis in Devon, chaired by rural expert Ian Mercer, has started at County Hall in Exeter.

The five-day inquiry, being broadcast over the Internet, is investigating the causes of the crisis and how it can be prevented from happening again.

Once completed, recommendations from the Devon inquiry will be submitted to the governments three investigations into the crisis.

Prof Mercer will also examine whether vaccination might have contained the disease more quickly than slaughter.

“I very much welcome the chance to contribute to the outcome of what has been a devastating crisis in the countryside of Devon,” he said.

“We, as a society, need to know how to avoid a repetition of the outbreak of foot-and-mouth, the way we deal with it and its aftermath.”

Prof Mercer said the interdependence of the rural economy, the countryside, and tourism had been revealed as never before during foot-and-mouth.

“We need now to expose the future for that rich complex,” he said.

Prof Mercer has lived in Devon since 1959 and enjoyed a long and distinguished career specialising in rural and environmental issues.

In 1995, he became the first secretary general of the Association of National Park Authorities, a position he held until his retirement earlier this year.

One year later, he received a CBE for services to the Welsh environment.


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