Live animal exports and the Ports and Harbours Act 1847
Email Campaign

I understand the strength of feeling about this issue and strongly believe animals should be slaughtered locally wherever possible. I believe this both on animal welfare grounds and on economic ones more of the value of the meat remains in the UK if animals are slaughtered here.

However, under European Union free trade rules it is illegal to ban the export of animals to other EU countries. Having looked into this, the Government is clear that whether it were to take direct or indirect action leading to a ban on live exports by certain port authorities is largely academic because it would make no substantive difference to the legal position. Achieving a ban by means of amending national legislation to allow port authorities to restrict trade as they see fit would still be illegal under EU free trade rules. It is therefore imperative that the highest standards of animal welfare are followed by any business dealing with animals, and that these same standards are enforced across the EU.

The EU's Council Regulation 1/2005 and the UK's Animal Welfare Act 2006 both protect the welfare of animals during transport. The European Commission recently studied the effectiveness of this legislation, and found that although the regulation has had a beneficial impact on the welfare of animals during transport, there could be room for improvement. It was suggested that this change should come from more effective enforcement of existing legislation rather than amendments to what already exists.

I am assured that the Government has taken this on board and will continue to pursue a more sustainable approach to the transport of livestock on long journeys. This includes calling on the EU Commission to update the rules on welfare during transport where there is sufficient scientific evidence to support a change.

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