Foot-and-mouth restrictions continue to ease

Defra has lifted the national ban on animal movements, following the EU's decision to allow the export of live animals and meat products following the foot-and-mouth crisis.

The move surprised the industry, which had not been anticipating a change in policy until 9 September.

A Defra statement yesterday said: "Alongside this resumption of exports, the GB-wide movement ban on live animals will be lifted from midnight tonight (23 August) outside of the surveillance zone in Surrey," said a statement.

However, animals will still have to remain on the premises they moved to for 20 days before being moved again, except for movements within the same hoding of less than 8km and movements direct to slaughter.

Animal markets, shows and gatherings are currently prohibited in England, however the Scottish executive has given the go-ahed for sales, auctions and shows to recommence from Monday.

Quality Meat Scotland chairman, Donald Biggar, said: "We are welcoming this announcement of resumption of stock movements and the reopening of auction sales at this critical time of year.

"Whilst we must remain vigilant, everyone in the industry will be pleased to be able to get about their business again, notwithstanding extra safety measures that have been put in place."

Defra said it would also be lifting the two 3km radius protection zones in Surrey from noon today (24 August). As a precaution, a 5km Temporary Pirbright Biosecurity Area will be put in place around the Pirbright site and the 10km surviellance zone will remain in place.

Chief Veterinary Officer, Debby Reynolds said: "The temporary area is a precautionary measure where we will be working with animal keepers and vets to ensure enhanced vigilance is maintained as we await the conclusions of the HSE investigation and the findings of the independent review led by Professor Brian Spratt."

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