DESPITE their best efforts, Scottish MEPs Alyn Smith and George Lyon yesterday found themselves at odds with their European colleagues as the parliament voted to reconsider limiting livestock journey times to a maximum of eight hours.
The report before parliament confirmed that the problems facing animal transport were largely down to patchy and occasionally poor enforcement of the current rules by the member states and called for a greater focus on these issues by those states that have been falling short.
But then the majority of MEPS allowed the eight-hour option to be reconsidered in the future.
Smith accepted that Scottish farmers would be disappointed with the news that the eight-hour limit had still not been entirely killed off.
“An eight-hour limit is unscientific and bears no relation to the actual stress animals are under,” he said. “All the evidence points to the key issues being loading and unloading, the temperature and conditions of transport and the conditions of the road and the temperature.
“A blanket eight-hour limit would put big chunks of Scotland effectively off limits for livestock production.”
He was hopeful that the new commissioner would bear that in mind.
A similar view was expressed by Lyon, who said a blanket eight-hour ban on animal transport would make it virtually impossible for farmers on the Scottish islands.
“I have argued that tougher enforcement of current legislation on animal transport was the right way to improve animal welfare,” he said.
“I am deeply disappointment that MEPs have buckled under the pressure, gone against the scientific evidence and voted for the introduction of unnecessary new rules that could see an eight-hour ban on animal transport enforced across Europe.”