MEPs reject eight-hour animal transport limit

The European Parliament’s agricultural committee has rejected proposals for an eight-hour time limit for slaughter animals in favour of a more scientific approach.

In March, the parliament called for an eight-hour limit on the transport of animals destined for slaughter – and more than one million people signed a petition backing the move.

But in what was described as “confused voting”, committee members decided the blanket ban had no scientific basis.

Instead they called for science-based improvements to transport conditions, such as space allowances, water access and the handling of animals.

Highlights in the final report passed by the committee included:

  • Amendments to encourage shorter journey times by promoting local processing
  • Technology for temperature and humidity control in vehicles should be investigated
  • Need for better inspections and more on-the-spot inspections
  • Sanctions for violations to be harmonised across the EU
  • Need for clear EU guidelines to develop training courses for drivers and handlers
  • Better uptake of satellite navigation systems by drivers.

Scottish MEP George Lyon welcomed the move. He said: “I am pleased the committee decided to strongly back the science-based approach to this very contentious issue.

“It would have been easy to cave in to the well-meaning, but flawed view that somehow limiting travel time to eight hours was a panacea that would eliminate the problems with animal transport.”

Instead, Mr Lyons said there needed to be a “crackdown” on those flouting the law. “We need more enforcement not more laws,” he added.

But Scottish MEP Alyn Smith said the eight-hour issue had “hijacked” important welfare issues highlighted in the report and he admitted he voted against the report with a “heavy heart”.

He added: “My colleagues have chosen to move this debate away from the key issues of enforcement and improved technology and towards a lightning-rod issue, which may win headlines but won’t do anything practical to achieve what we want to achieve.

“I remain convinced that a blanket ban on all livestock journeys of more than eight hours is not the correct response. It would make livestock production in remote parts of Europe difficult, if not impossible.”

Rhian Price on G+

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