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Live exports at Dover given go-ahead

Dover, animal exports, Jolene
The MV Jolene during trials at Dover Credit: ITV Meridian

Dover Harbour Board has confirmed that the resumption of live animal exports have been given the go ahead.

It said that following two berthing trials the ship, the MV Joline, has been given permission to commence a ferry service from the Port’s Eastern Docks.

The first service is due to happen on Thursday. It's unclear whether this will involve any live exports.

Ramsgate export challenge thwarted, could Dover be next?

Port of Ramsgate Credit: PA

It's another dramatic development in the campaign to end live animal exports from Kent.

A High Court judge has ruled that the RSPCA cannot mount a legal challenge to stop the animals from being transported from Ramsgate. It was seen by opponents as the last chance to block the trade.

And tonight there are also reports that we could soon see the trade extended to the Port of Dover.

For two years now there have been protests here against this trade. The RSPCA wanted a judicial review - an examination of export facilities at the port and an investigation of whether animal welfare safeguards are working.

Exposing animals to long crossings in rough weather was the RSPCA's biggest concern but the judge has said there's no legal justification for such a review, and that means legal challenges to this trade have now almost certainly run out of steam.

This latest defeat follows Thanet Council's decision to abandon its legal challenge to the trade and there's talk of animal exports resuming at Dover. Dover Harbour Board has confirmed that exporters have discussed the issue, though it stresses that no sailings are currently scheduled.

Exports through Dover in the 1990s triggered huge demonstrations and protest leaders expect to be back there soon.

Tonight the RSPCA said it had not given up and was taking fresh legal advice this weekend. Animal exporters were not available for comment about their rumoured interest in using Dover.

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View from the Commons

MPs have been debating the future of live animal exports through the Port of Ramsgate. Animal rights groups, and some MPs want the practice banned after several animals had to be destroyed.

Now the all-party animal welfare committee may investigate the circumstances The MP for the port is the South Thanet's Laura Sandys. Fred Dinenage has been speaking to her about the issue.

Kent MP to lead Commons debate over live animal exports

Protest against live animal exports
Protest against live animal exports through Ramsgate

The MP for South Thanet, Laura Sandys, is to play a key role in a parliamentary debate on the live animal exports trade today. The Conservative politician wants the trade to be banned, but is expected to call for more stringent welfare rules in the meantime - while the trade continues.

Although they were banned following an incident earlier this year, live animal exports have resumed in Ramsgate, part of the MP's constituency in Kent.

The issue has been controversial, with protesters demonstrating at the Port of Ramsgate each time a shipment takes place.

Live animals exports
Live animals exports have come under the spotlight
Laura Sandys MP
Laura Sandys MP to debate live animal exports in Parliament

The MP wants tougher inspections on firms which carry out live animal exports, and hopes stricter rules will make it more difficult to unprofitable to export live animals from the UK.

She said: "We aren't yet going to be able to stop the trade, but we might be able to price it out of the market, I would like all exports to be banned, but it is going to be very difficult to get there.".

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MEPS to vote on live animal exports

Members of the European Parliament are to vote on issues surrounding the live export of animals this afternoon.

Among the issues are ideas for improving the welfare of animals when they are being transported long-distance for slaughter, including: an eight-hour limit on journey times; more on-the-spot inspections; and tougher punishment for those who break the current EU rules.

One of the South East's MEPs - Keith Taylor, from the Green Party has been monitoring the situation at the Port of Ramsgate in Kent, which resumed live animal exports earlier this year.

Live export ban - Compassion in World Farming statement

Actress Joanna Lumley "animals deserve better" Credit: PA

Compassion in World Farming says it has welcomed Thanet District Council’s decision to suspend live animal exports from Ramsgate port.

The port was, until yesterday, the only one in Britain exporting live animals to the continent for slaughter.

The council’s move came just hours after 45 sheep died at the port, the latest and most significant tragedy in the catalogue of problems with live exports from Ramsgate.

Actress and Compassion Patron Joanna Lumley OBE said: “I congratulate Thanet District Council for suspending this appalling trade. My sincere hope is that our Government will follow suit. We control the fate of these unfortunate creatures. Surely they deserve better from us?”

Philip Lymbery, the campaign's CEO, said: “This is hugely welcome, especially given the latest appalling incident at Ramsgate, where over 40 sheep died. We applaud Thanet District Council’s leadership in suspending the cruel and unnecessary live export trade.”

It's believed more than 70,000 animals were exported live through Ramsgate last year after the trade moved from Dover.

RSPCA Chief Executive Statement

The RSPCA is calling for the end to live animal exports from the Port of Ramsgate after 45 sheep died during an inspection of a lorry. It's understood that two men are being questioned by police in relation to vehicle and animal welfare offences.

This trade needs to stop right now. The RSPCA has been warning that a significant welfare incident like this could lead to tragedy for the animals and now it has."

– RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant
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