Animal welfare campaigners are today staging a demonstration at the port of Ramsgate, protesting against the “barbaric” long-distance transport of calves and sheep from Scotland to continental Europe.
The protest comes in the wake of an outcry over the length of time it took to transport a lorryload of calves aged as little as two weeks old from Dumfries and Galloway across the Channel and on to their final destination last month.
It’s thought the 247 young animals could have been in transit for as much as 70 hours in all, with the trip from Ramsgate to Calais alone taking almost 14 hours due to delays.
Campaigners believe live transportation of farm animals for slaughter or fattening up elsewhere is inhumane, describing the recent incident as “heinous”.
Mary Jackman, from the Scottish Borders, says a stop should be put to the practice.
She said: “It’s horrendous. The male calves are taken from their mothers from just two weeks old. In the last shipment, the poor things were in transit for days, coming all the way from Scotland to Ramsgate by road before being loaded on to a boat that was held up for several hours.”
The law states that calves must not be transported for more than nine hours without an hour of rest, and no longer than 21 hours without having a full day’s rest.
MEP Keith Taylor, animals spokesman for the Green Party, is joining activists at today’s demonstration at the port.
He said: “Long distance transport is barbaric and the latest resumption of calf exports through Kent highlights the fact that we need a collaborative effort on both sides of the Channel to end this suffering.”
Yvonne Birchall, from Kent Action Against Live Exports, added: “It is unacceptable for animals to have to experience these journeys, some starting in Scotland and ending in space. We need greater effort to end this cruel trade.”
The UK government is considering banning live exports of animals after Brexit.
Scottish ministers have said they will not follow suit.
A spokesman for the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)confirmed an investigation is under way into the incident last month.
He said: “The APHA takes potential breaches of animal welfare legislation very seriously and investigates all allegations.
“Where welfare regulations are breached, appropriate action is taken. Where there are animal welfare concerns, APHA will direct transporters to take animals to contingency premises to be rested, watered and fed”.