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Compassion in World Farming launches legal challenge against Scottish Government over export of unweaned calves

News Section Icon Published 26/02/2020

Yesterday (25th February), leading farm animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming, launched judicial review proceedings against the Scottish Government for permitting the transport of unweaned calves on export journeys longer than eight hours. Under EU law journeys over eight hours are not permitted, unless after nine hours of travel the calves are fed with milk replacer and given water. In practice the calves are not fed and, in many cases, not given water.

Each year thousands of young, fragile calves are exported from Scotland to Spain on long and gruelling journeys, during which Compassion believes this law is being ignored.

“For too long, the Scottish Government has been permitting these long journeys, even though they know the calves are not fed after nine hours as EU law mandates,” said Peter Stevenson, Chief Policy Advisor at Compassion in World Farming. “If the calves are not fed after nine hours, they are likely to travel 23 hours or more without feed. Being without feed for such a long period may lead to hunger, weight loss, difficulty in coping with cold and heat, adverse impact on the calves’ immunity and so to disease.”

Compassion has asked the Scottish Court of Session to rule that it is unlawful for the Scottish Government to permit the export of unweaned calves on journeys over eight hours. If successful, this case would make it impossible for long-distance transport to continue in its current form.

In addition to targeting the Scottish Government, Compassion is also lobbying the Prime Minister this week. The charity is calling on Boris Jonson to deliver on his promise to abolish the cruel live shipment of animals once we leave the EU, with a series of bold digital adverts at London tube stations and print adverts running in the Evening Standard and the Spectator.

The week will culminate with the appearance of a digital ad van, which will carry Compassion’s message throughout London, starting at Johnson’s constituency of Uxbridge and travelling to Westminster, where an open letter, which urges the Prime Minister to keep to his word and ban live exports once and for all, will be hand-delivered to 10 Downing Street.

The letter has been signed by High Profile Supporters of the charity, including Dragons’ Den Investor Deborah Meaden, actor Joanna Lumley and TV chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, along with 26 others.

Downton Abby star and letter signatory, Peter Egan said: “Too many animals have been forced to suffer these intolerable journeys for too long and urgent action must be taken now to stop this cruel, outdated trade once and for all.”