As MPs debate live farm animal exports from Britain in Parliament today, we have released new data that show the number of ports in Britain being used for the live export of farm animals has increased.
An FOI request by Compassion has revealed ports other than Ramsgate and Ipswich have been used for live exports to the continent this year, something not previously known.
The data, from the first half of this year, also reveal young calves being taken on a journey of nearly 100 hours from England to Spain. But the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has not released the location of the ports handling live exports. After some confusion, it seems that they are in Scotland.
Compassion has also released the results of a new YouGov opinion poll for Compassion which reveals two-thirds (66%) of the British public would prefer British farm animals to be slaughtered in the UK and exported as meat, with just 6% thinking they should be exported live.
The British public currently indirectly subsidises the live export trade, as taxpayers fund the policing of ports and inspections of the transporters by government staff. But 62% of respondents in the same poll thought the companies that export live animals should be primarily responsible for bearing the cost of the trade.
Philip Lymbery, Compassion's CEO, says: "We are in a ridiculous position in Britain, where we don't agree with live exports but are forced to subsidise it with our taxes.
"Calves are seemingly being taken from England up to Scotland, via ferry to Northern Ireland, on through Ireland and over to Spain via another, gruelling, ferry journey.
"I think many British people will be appalled that these young animals are being taken on these nonsensical journeys of almost 100 hours."
On 13th November in Parliament, farming minister David Heath said Ramsgate in Kent was the only port in England used for exports for slaughter and that export consignments were subject to inspection at the point the animals were loaded and at the port.
In the 18 months from January 2011 until June 2012 (the most recent date for which we have data) over 90,000 cattle and sheep have been exported from Great Britain. The majority of these animals have been exported through the port of Ramsgate.
But the FOI data show more than 1,000 animals going out through ports other than Ramsgate or Ipswich between January and June this year, raising the spectre of a furtive return to live exports from other parts of Britain.
- Sign the No.10 e-petition calling on the government to end live exports to continental Europe and, in the meantime, shift the financial burden of this unwanted trade from the taxpayer to the haulier