7 December 2001
Live-import dock concerns farmers
By Isabel Davies
A DECISION to designate Dover the only port in England allowed to accept live animal imports has been questioned by farmers hoping to restock farms.
European vets agreed last month to allow imports of animals susceptible to foot-and-mouth to restart in disease-free counties via designated ports of entry.
But Dover has been picked as the UKs only “gateway” port for imported animals, despite it having only one ferry company prepared to take animals.
A spokeswoman for P&O Stena Line said its freight service would carry live animals so long as they were for breeding purposes and not for slaughter.
But competitors SeaFrance said it did not carry livestock at the moment, and did not envisage the situation would change.
A spokesman for Norfolkline seemed equally reluctant.
“We have not yet had an opportunity to study the full details of what is being proposed, and we will not be commenting further until we have done so.”
Farmers Ferry normally operates out of Dover, so could have proved a lifeline. But the boat has not sailed since the start of foot-and-mouth in February.
Kevin Pearce, National Farmers Union livestock adviser, said he had put in a request to civil servants about the possibility of opening up more ports.
“Clearly we want it so people who want to source animals can, and they dont have to move them around by road too much,” he said.
Phil Roberts of livestock import and export company Southwest Bloodstock Shipping said he would also like to see Portsmouth opened up.
Brittany Ferries, which operates out of Portsmouth was used to carrying livestock, he said. Having an alternative destination would also reduce journey times.
“This governments very concerned about animal welfare – we need Portsmouth.
“Scotland and Wales both have two designated ports and Ireland has three.”