Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Ramsgate Live Animal Export Argument

It's one of those weeks where the weather can't make up its mind, which gives me an opportunity to write an overdue Blog entry.

Where some of you may have seen me flying around for Heart FM on Monday with a competition banner, I've a more challenging one to tow around in two weeks; a £2 million cheque! Quite how the winner is going to bank a digital cheque image 15 feet fight by 25 feet wide I don't know but I'm sure it will come as a pleasant surprise when it appears overhead.

There is that temptation to change the name on the cheque and keep on flying towards Europe but I think they might catch up with me or cancel it before I got too far!

The very emotive subject of animal exports from Ramsgate is still creating justifiably strong feelings and I share people's moral revulsion. I also see that a demonstration is planned outside the council offices on 14th July, where it will be discussed in a full council meeting. Last time I wrote about this, I expressed the personal view that there's some  cynical manipulation of public opinion taking place for political purposes and this includes focusing attention or an element of blame on our local council, rather than where the responsibility really lies;  the European Union or indeed the last Labour Government, the latter which promised action and then discovered it's hands were tied by the Brussels bureaucracy.

Thanet District Council, which is as unhappy about the animal export trade as the public it represents, has now taken the highest legal advice on the subject. The opinion it has received, is that it may not lawfully ban live animal exports from the Port of Ramsgate on moral grounds,  on animal welfare grounds, on Port bye-law grounds or even on 'sentient being' grounds. ( a completely specious argument proposed by the local Labour group)

I'm told that the only recognised grounds  for refusal,  lies with capacity and unfortunately, in regard to this particular argument, there is lots of that to be found at the Port of Ramsgate.

Going back to what I wrote a week ago, what we do know is that the UK courts have ruled that a ban on live animal exports imposed by the Dover Harbour Board was unlawful and that in a separate private law case, Dover Harbour Board was ordered to pay damages to the trade for loss of profits.

The legal advice does suggest,  that the EU institutions and/or national governments could further legislate in this area on animal welfare grounds; the responsibility lying with DEFRA. However, this would require sustained lobbying of both the European parliament and our own national parliament.

So while I see councillors united in their opposition to this awful trade,  I would ask people, if they are going to protest,  direct their efforts and voices through their MPs and MEPs towards lobbying the national institutions that can make a difference rather than  attack local government, both here and elsewhere, which is shown to be powerless to prevent the awful trade under the law.

Read the council's own press release on the subject here.


Anonymous said...

There are charges for goods shipped in and out of the port,why cannot the charge for each animal be trebled,surely that would put the exporters off using Ramsgate.

DrM. said...

That would be illegal and anti-competitive both!

Michael Child said...

Simon, does the council have an animal welfare policy in place? I know that a lot of councils do but I can’t find any mention of a TDC one.

DrM. said...


I'm not directly aware of such but whether it does or doesn't wouldn't be relevant in the circumstances as the matter falls under the remit of DEFRA

Michael Child said...

Simon please excuse me I am rather clutching at straws here.

ascu75 aka Don said...

Not everyone is against the export of animals ie the farmers and the transport companies and the ferry companies. The tax man will be pleased and our exports will recieve a boost. To me it is a commercial transaction.

Anonymous said...

From Ships Monthly

"An unusual ferry has started work between Dover and Calais. Joline is a former Lithuanian river ferry, now owned by Barco de Vapor BV of Amsterdam and registered under the Latvian flag. She was built in 1988 by Baltijia Shipbuilding in Klaipeda, Lithuania as Zhalgiris for the Nemunas River Shipping Co for operation between Klaipeda and Smiltynes.

She is one of a series of vessels built by the Soviet Union designated Project R-144. The class was designed to perform a dual role and has strengthened vehicle decks for carrying heavy military equipment. The 642gt vessel measures 51.5m by 14.9m and can carry 1,298 passengers or 85 passengers and 52 cars. She is powered by twin 364hp diesels.

Joline arrived from Lithuania under tow at Den Helder in September 2010 and later moved to IJmuiden for conversion and recertification for open sea use. She arrived in Calais on 17 December following a stopover in Vlissingen. Joline is now operating between Dover and Calais on making occasional trips with livestock trailers, taking around four hours to make the crossing. When not in use, she is berthed in Calais’s inner docks."

Interesting to know if the MCA have carried out a Port State Inspection of this ship under the Paris MoU.

Oh, and before the discontented ask why she isn't still at Dover. The reason is that she could only use number 1 berth and that is now shut for major structural repairs. Suspect that DHB won't re-open it.

Anonymous said...

Portsmouth south port placed a £5000 levey on each transportation lorry 2009 and stopped the trade.
Why can other ports not apply the same method

Anonymous said...

I feel this is a backwardstep... the UK can no longer boast its high standards in farm animal welfare, we as a nation need to make sure that the nations farm animals are looked after from farm to abbatoir. This will not happen once these animals leave our shores. There is plenty of evidnce about to show what happens to animals travelling the hundreds of miles through europe to meet there fate in abbatoirs that are not subjected to the strict laws that we in the UK adhere to. The less miles animals travel to the abbatoir the kindest and of course less inpact on our planet.