We are pleased to announce that, after a gruelling legal battle, the Scottish Government has finally stopped live calf exports. Having spent six months defending the inhumane export of unweaned calves to Europe, they have conceded that this trade was being conducted in breach of the legislation on the protection of animals during transport.
With backing from our dedicated supporters, we launched Judicial Review proceedings to challenge the lawfulness of this practice back in February. Both the Scottish and UK Governments resisted for several months – wasting taxpayers’ money – shamefully defending a trade which can see calves go for 23 hours without food and often water. In a major U-turn, the Scottish Government has now instructed the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), which is responsible for approving export journeys, to not approve any further applications for unweaned calf exports that breach the time limits in the regulations.
“The Scottish Government’s conduct during this dispute has often fallen far short of that expected from a responsible authority,” said Peter Stevenson, our Chief Policy Advisor. “They have neglected to disclose key information, run misleading arguments, and despite export journeys exceeding the maximum permitted travelling time since at least April 2019, that these journeys were exceeding the maximum permitted travelling time, they failed to act and did not issue an instruction to halt the trade until over a year later. Above all, they have vigorously defended this cruel and unnecessary trade.”
A lengthy battle
Over several decades, millions of British calves have been forced to endure long, inhumane journeys to Europe for slaughter and fattening. We have fought this all the way. The ending of calf exports from Britain represents a turning point in the battle to stop this horrific trade.
“We welcome this decision that means thousands of calves will be spared such gruelling journeys every year,” said Natasha Smith, our Senior Campaigns Manager. “However, it is outrageous that it took legal action and years of argument to bring the Scottish Government to this point.”
Whilst this is a major victory for the welfare of Scottish calves, the policy must now be secured by legislation. The Scottish Government has promised a public consultation on banning journeys over 9 hours for calves, and the UK Government has previously committed to a separate consultation on live exports. Similar consultations in the past have yet to yield results.
“More consultations and empty promises are not enough,” Natasha continued. “We need new legislation to protect animals from this cruel and unnecessary practice once and for all.”
Now, our fight continues far beyond the courtroom. We will not stop until there is a complete ban on live exports from the UK for slaughter and fattening.
You have helped achieve justice for calves. A huge thanks to every person who has donated, emailed politicians, or even joined Kent Action Against Live Exports to protest the sailings in person.
Read more about our Judicial Review proceedings here.