Protests as live animal exports arrive at Ramsgate Port

An end to live exports?

Campaigners protested this morning as a live export shipment of sheep arrived at Ramsgate Port.

Around 60 protesters gathered on the road into the port. Three lorries carrying sheep, destined for slaughter at the EID festival at the end of the month, made their way to load the animals onto the Jolene vessel.

In August last year some 100 police officers were drafted in due to expected large numbers of protesters as some 2,500 sheep were transported for the annual Muslim festival.

Campaigners sat in the road to block the lorries, carrying some 1,500 sheep, until they were moved by police.

Several more shipments are expected to take place over the next few weeks.

Campaigner and former councillor Ian Driver said: “This is a cruel and brutal trade which has been operating from Ramsgate for over 6 years. I hope post Brexit will see an end to it once and for all!

“I for one will continue to campaign and protest against this trade until the day it is ends. In the meantime a lot more could be done to ensure that the exporters are complying with existing EU regulations governing the transport of animals.

“The Government’s Animal Heath Agency should be conducting more frequent and more thorough checks of the animals on their long journeys to Ramsgate and whilst being loaded on the ferry. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency should be carrying out more inspections of the transporter vehicles to ensure that they are road-worthy and meet the required standards.

“At the moment the checking regime is appallingly inadequate and serious animal welfare and cruelty issues are going undetected and unpunished. This is unacceptable and inspection regime should be massively intensified.”

Live export facts

Live export is the commercial transport of live farm animals across national borders. The expansion of the trade has been supported by the introduction of purpose-built ships which carry large numbers of animals. There has been strong criticism of the industry on animal rights grounds.

The Jolene

Policing protests

The operation to police animal export protests at the Port of Ramsgate cost taxpayers more than £400,000 between July 2011 to December 2012.

Between July and December 2011, policing costs were £167,127.99 and between January and December 2012, the costs were £237,915.08.

The then-ruling Labour group at Thanet council had banned exports from Ramsgate after 47 sheep died at the port in September 2012 but they were forced to  make a U-turn by the High Court.

TDC has since paid £5.1 million in compensation to individuals and companies involved in the export of live farm animals from the port of Ramsgate for loss of trade.

The claims followed the High Court ruling in December 2013 that TDC’s ban was unlawful  and in breach of EU free trade regulations.