It is 15 months since the export of live animals began through the port of Ramsgate, and it is more apparent than ever that their welfare is suffering.
Two recent events at Ramsgate serve to highlight the problems with the trade.
On Friday 7th September, members of Kent Action Against Live Exports (KAALE) reported seeing a sheep taken from one of the transporters and shot on board the M.V. Joline, the only ferry used in the trade from Ramsgate. An inspector had found the sheep with a severely ulcerated eye, which would be likely to cause severe pain.
On Wednesday 29th August, hundreds of sheep were reportedly trapped for over eight hours at Ramsgate on board a vehicle that was deemed not to be roadworthy due to a defective tyre.
According to a report by KAALE, the damaged tyre couldn't be replaced with the spare, which was also faulty, and an inspection by officials from Defra's Animal Health unit and the RSPCA revealed a defective roof, unsecure pens and problems with access to the water feeders.
There is currently no resting facility for the animals at Ramsgate, so the sheep remained cramped on the four-tier static lorry from 7.30am and remained at the port until at least 3:30pm. They were later taken back to Northamptonshire, where they had come from early that morning.
Port not fit for purpose
Compassion welcomes a letter sent by Thanet District Council, which is responsible for the port, to the new Environment Secretary Owen Patterson, which details among other things the desperate need for a facility near Ramsgate that could accept animals if those transporting them were refused permission to take them over the channel.
It also asks Defra to consider supporting the council if it decides, given the absence of such a facility, to suspend the trade at the port on animal welfare grounds.
Dil Peeling, Director of Public Affairs at Compassion in World Farming said: "These recent incidents highlight the fact that Ramsgate is not equipped to act as a port for live animal exports. We would urge Defra to suspend the trade."