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Success! Ban live exports bill passed into law

After more than 50 years of relentless campaigning from supporters like you, in 2024, the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill has just passed its final stage in Parliament and will be enshrined into law!

Thanks to you, tens of thousands of British farmed animals every year will no longer be forced to endure journeys overseas, involving travelling for hundreds of miles, causing them to suffer from exhaustion, dehydration and even death.

This ends here, once and for all.

A massive thank you!

Over the decades, supporters like you have been the voice for farmed animals that are being transported overseas. Thanks to all of you, for adding pressure on successive UK governments, MPs, and councils across Britain where live exports have occurred. Over the years you’ve attended demonstrations, protests and rallies, and spoken out at ports and airports up and down the country. Every action - every letter, demonstration, and signature helped us get closer to, and win, a British live exports ban. 

Hear From Those Who Have Helped Ban Live Exports

group of volunteers at a stand outside
Rachel and Adrian Creed at a street fair in Norfolk, 2012

‘From our first street fair stall in Bungay, to our events at the Norwich Forum, we will be delighted to have, in a small way, contributed to a British live exports ban.’  Rachel and Adrian Creed, Supporters

'Attending demos against live exports meant arriving at Ramsgate at 4am. It is no surprise it was done this way – if there was more visibility there would be outcry. Animals packed in, sometimes injured, and always with terror in their eyes. I’ve met people who have been campaigning for decades. Thanks to their dedication, we can finally remove this despicable practice from our shores.Jodi, Supporter

Supporters with banners and placards at a London live exports demonstration
Live exports protest outisde Westminster, 2014

'It was back in 1988/89 that a gentleman knocked on my door and asked if I’d sign a CIWF ‘Ban Live Export’ petition. That’s when I got involved. I went to demos and protests at Portsmouth, Shoreham, and Dover, and rallies in London’  Dave Martin, Supporter

'I am phenomenally proud of our supporters whose dedication and persistence have helped secure this hard-fought victory.' Philip Lymbery, Compassion’s Global CEO 

'Ian and I started our personal campaign on 20th April 1995 when we decided to go to Dover port and see for ourselves after the exporters obtained the permission from the courts, against Dover Harbour Boards wishes, to export the animals through Dover on their own ships. What we saw that day changed our lives and we made a vow to fight for the animals until the law was changed.' Yvonne and Ian Birchall, KAALE

White Cliffs of Dover Projection

On the 15th May 2024, CIWF, RSPCA and KAALE united to celebrate the Ban on Live Exports from Great Britain! We projected a video on the White Cliffs of Dover to mark this historic moment.

Celebrations From Our Patrons 

Our High Profile Supporters and Patrons have showed us incredible passion and spirit in their support as they tirelessly campaigned for a ban on live exports over many years. 

Joanna Lumley standing in front of a large red bus in Trafalgar Square for Ban Live Exports
Joanna Lumley campaigning for Ban Live Exports, 2012


'Finally, finally, finally, we can celebrate the news that live farm animals will never again be exported on long, horrendous journeys from our shores.'

Dame Joanna Lumley, Compassion’s Patron 

The 50 year campaign 

Historically, the trade in live animal exports from the UK grew substantially during the 1960s and 1970s. With the rise in the number of live animals exported out of Britain, our supporters have shown continuous efforts to stop live exports.

live exports protest
Live export protest during the 1990s

1990s: The UK was exporting millions of animals live each year for fattening or slaughter.

1991: The House of Commons Agriculture Committee published their Report on Animals in Transit stating that the transport of animals over long distances to be slaughtered was undesirable.

1993: Compassion supporters joined a postcard campaign to persuade roll-on roll-off ferries to stop taking livestock shipments.

1995: In February, supporters gathered around Coventry Airport to protest the export of live calves. Tragically, Jill Phipps was killed as she and others tried to stop the lorry.

1995: Hundreds of protestors in Shoreham and Plymouth attempted to blockade live animal shipments. The small Essex town of Brightlingsea also held protests over 10 months to stop live animal exports. After the first day, the shipments were turned back but then the police gradually moved protestors aside and let the lorries pass.

1996: The outbreak of the BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), otherwise known as ‘mad cow disease’, imposed a live export ban of British cattle from the UK for nearly a decade.

protestors ouside with signs
Protesters outside with Ban Live Export banners in Dover 2002

2005: Stop the Bullship campaign, spearheaded by Kate Ford and Joanna Lumley, results in EU subsidies being withdrawn from farmers who export live cattle from Ireland to the Middle East.

2006: The EU lifted the ban on British beef exports, meaning live animals born after 1st August 1996 and beef products made from cattle slaughtered after 15th June 2005 were once again exported.

2006: Compassion and the RSPCA launched a major project (The Beyond Calf Exports Stakeholders Forum) within the dairy industry. This helped slash the export of male dairy calves by 90% between 2006 and 2012.

protestors in front of truck branded Trucking Hell
Protesters at Stop Live Transport Edinburgh Rally 2019

2010: Transport ship MV Joline started exporting animals from Dover. Shipments later moved to Ramsgate.

2011: For many months, Ramsgate was the only port in Britain where live exports for slaughter or fattening were undertaken, with more than 75,000 animals being transported over the year.

2012: On 12th Steptember, A defective transport truck at Ramsgate caused more than 40 sheep to be put down due to their severe injuries, with some drowning after a floor collapsed in an area on the port. Thanet District Council placed a suspension on the trade, but the UK High Court decided to rule out the Judicial Review of live exports, allowing live exports to continue.

2013: Compassion undertook two investigations on the live export of animals out of the UK. It witnessed terrible conditions for these animals travelling for hundreds of miles.

2016: The first annual International Awareness Day took place. It raises awareness of the cruelty of live exports. In the UK, it was supported over the years by our high profile supporters and patrons, such as Peter Egan, Deborah Meaden, Evanna Lynch, Carley Stenson, plus more. And MPs from major political parties, including Caroline Lucas, Theresa Villiers, Sir David Amess, Craig Mackinlay, and Sir Roger Gale.

London underground station displaying Ban Live Exports advert
Ban Live Exports Digital Ad in London Underground Station (2022)

2020: Our supporters helped draw attention to the horrors of live exports to millions of people in London. Compassion launched a high-profile ad campaign for a week, calling out the UK Government to end the trade.

2020: Taking the Scottish Government to court, Compassion launched Judicial Review proceedings challenging the unlawfulness of calves being exported on long journeys, and kept without food on trucks for more than 8 hours. In turn, the Scottish Government stopped live calf exports.

2020: The social media hashtag #BanLiveExports was trending on Twitter, with 13 million views. Led by Compassion, it unified the support of 100 NGOs in 36 different countries.

2021: On 8th June, the UK Government published its new Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill marking an important milestone for farmed animals.

2022: On 14th March, Compassion published digital ads in the London Underground calling on the UK Government to keep its promise and deliver the live export ban in Britain, without delay.

2022: On 15th June, Compassion hosted the annual Ban Live Exports day at Parliament Square, London. Hundreds of Compassion supporters attended the rally, demanding a ban once and for all. We heard from our high-profile supporters Evanna Lynch, Peter Egan, Emma Milne, Marc Abraham OBE who also joined us on the day.

2023: After eighteen months of delay, Government Ministers announced in May that the Bill was being dropped.

2023: On 20th September, Compassion handed in more than 95,000 supporter signatures on the Ban Live Exports petition directly to the Prime Minister at No. 10 Downing Street.

2023: The UK Government announced, on 7th November, their intention to introduce the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill to ban live exports.

2023-2024: Throughout December and January, Compassion supporters continue to pressurise Members of Parliament to pass the Bill into law.

2024: The Bill passed its last stage in parliament and will be enshrined into law. The practice of live exports is finally banned from Great Britain once and for all!

More ways to fight cruelty


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