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Scots Tory MEP To Address Animal Transportation Issue In Highlands

Scots Tory MEP Struan Stevenson is to host a special meeting for farmers and hauliers angry about the way livestock regulations are fiddled in parts of the EU, but strictly applied in Scotland. The meeting in Wick on March 1, concerns the Transport Regulations which look set to be changed again, even though UK farmers complain that other EU farmers don’t bother to comply with the current rules.

The meeting will discuss new proposals and current negotiations going on in the EU and the impact on Highland farmers and hauliers. The Euro MP has called the meeting in anticipation of the imminent publication of new rules by the European Commission. The new regulations were supposed to have appeared last September but were withheld pending the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Struan has previously called for the European Commission to provide MEPs with information on the level of compliance amongst Member States, arguing that tougher measures should be taken to ensure all countries comply with the rules in the same rigorous way that Britain does, rather than re-writing the regulations every two or three years. He asked for an assurance that countries, particularly in Eastern Europe and the Southern Mediterranean States, would be named and shamed if caught breaking the rules.

Struan Stevenson said:

In Scotland, the transport rules have been strictly followed, where we continue to observe some of the best practice in the whole of the EU.

An 8-hour mandatory time limit was designed to protect animals during transport to slaughter. We fought and won a series of derogations for Scotland which took account of our remote peripheral farming communities and the particular problems of the Highlands and Islands, where 8 hours is impractical. However, transport rules are not being observed in other parts of the EU, particularly the Southern Mediterranean Member States and parts of Eastern Europe. There is great concern about the transport of horses for slaughter over long distances, in high temperatures and with no access to water and poor ventilation.

The European Commission must take action to eradicate any suffering or ill treatment of livestock during transportation, but we dont need a whole welter of new regulations, we just need better policing of and compliance with the existing regulations. I want to hear the views of farmers and hauliers in Scotland so that I can report back to the Commission during the earliest stages of the anticipated debate on their new legislative proposals.

Rules to protect animals during transportation were introduced by the EU in 2004 and entered into force in January 2007 in all 27 EU Member States, with special derogations applied to longer journeys where it could be demonstrated that vehicle standards had been upgraded, providing animals with access to water, temperature control and adequate ventilation.

In Scotland, the transport rules are strictly followed and farmers and hauliers have demonstrated the effective application of derogations, where longer journey times are required, as in the case of the Highlands.

The meeting chaired by Alastair Graham will be held at Mackays Hotel, Union Street, Wick on 1 March from 14:00hrs to 15:30hrs.

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