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UK unveils plans to end live animal exports for slaughter

Christian Fernsby |
Plans to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening have been unveiled by the Environment Secretary.

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These proposals form part of an eight-week consultation, launched in England and Wales, seeking views on how to better protect animal welfare during transport.

Live animals commonly have to endure excessively long journeys during exports, causing distress and injury. Previously, EU rules prevented any changes to these journeys, but leaving the EU has enabled the UK Government to pursue these plans which would prevent unnecessary suffering of animals during transport and see us become the first country in Europe to end this practice.

The government is also consulting on proposals to further improve animal welfare in transport more generally, such as:

- reduced maximum journey times
- animals being given more space and headroom during transport
- stricter rules on transporting animals in extreme temperatures
- tighter rules for transporting live animals by sea

Around 6,400 animals were transported from the UK directly to slaughter in continental Europe in 2018, based on internal figures.

This consultation takes into account the responses to the 2018 Call for Evidence, as well as the report published by the then Farm Animal Welfare Committee (now known as the Animal Welfare Committee), which is made up of farming and veterinary experts, into the existing welfare standards for animals during transport.

Peter Stevenson, OBE and Compassion in World Farming’s Chief Policy Advisor said: "Compassion in World Farming is delighted that Defra plans to ban live exports for slaughter and fattening. We have campaigned for over 50 years against the massive suffering caused by this inhumane, archaic trade, so this unambiguous proposal is very welcome. We urge farmers not to oppose the proposed ban but rather to recognise that this is an important part of moving forward to a high welfare future."

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