Scots to resume slaughter

Scottish abattoirs will be resuming slaughter by tomorrow morning (Wednesday), the Scottish Executive has announced.

The move, which has been welcomed by the Scottish meat industry, will see the movement of animals under licence to approved slaughterhouses allowed from midnight tonight. The GB-wide ban remains in place for other animal movements however.

Applications for approval have gone out to abattoirs across the country and MHS inspections will be getting underway. Only animals from Scottish premises will be licensed to move to these abattoirs. Farmers will need to apply for a general movement licence which only allows only for direct transfer from premises to abattoir

Andy McGowan, from Quality Meat Scotland, said: "The application forms and general notes will be hitting desks on plants now and by the time MHS have completed the process they should be up and running by mid-morning."

The lifting of restrictions has been taken on the advice of Scotland's Chief Veterinary Officer following consultation with his counterparts in the rest of the UK.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, said: "We are taking this very limited step, based on the veterinary assessment of risk, that will give the green light for at least part of Scotland's meat industry to get up and running again."

He said it was the first stage in the process of returning to normality and said restrictions would continue to be reviewed in the light of any developments.

Scotland's Chief Veterinary Officer Charles Milne said: "I am in touch with my counterparts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on a daily basis. On the basis of a veterinary risk assessment, I am confident that we can proceed with this limited relaxation in Scotland on a strictly controlled basis. It is essential that we remain vigilant and maintain all other protective measures already in place."

The news will add further frustration to the industry in the rest of the UK, which earlier this afternoon failed to gain any commitment from the UK chief veterinary officer Debbie Reynolds as to when slaughter could commence.

Norman Bagley, policy director of the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, said: "If this is a demonstration of joined up government, it makes a notion of any stakeholder ideals pretty much redundant."

Stuart Roberts, director of the British Meat Processing Association, said: "Considering that Debbie Reynolds wanted more time to look at the epidemiological report from the second case, my concern would be that we're jumping the gun.

"Our priority has to be to continue to control the spread and not do anything to put that at risk."

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