Live animal exports suspended

Dozens of sheep died Credit: ITV Meridian

Live animal transport through the Port of Ramsgate has been suspended after the deaths of more than 50 sheep.

A lorry from Northamptonshire was stopped before it crossed the channel because of technical faults.

When the sheep were unloaded from the four tier vehicle, animal welfare officers found two were injured. They, along with another 41 lame animals, had to be put down.

While they were being loaded into an area where the floor collapsed, six sheep fell into the water. Four were rescued by nearby RSPCA officers, but two drowned.

The RSPCA has described yesterday's events as a 'fiasco.'

"This trade needs to stop right now. We told the port authorities right from the start that they did not have the facilities to handle live exports safely. The RSPCA has been warning that a significant welfare incident like this could lead to tragedy for the animals and now it has. Early this summer we sent a report to the local authority warning that this would happen."**

VIDEO: A council has placed a temporary ban on controversial live animal exports through a Kent port following the death of dozens of sheep which were severely lame. More than 40 had to be put down at Ramsgate after the lorry carrying them was found to be unfit for the job. The government today promised an inquiry but said it did not have the right to stop the exports because they were permitted under European law. Thanet Council says it has the power to do so because the port does not have the right facilities to cater for animals in such cases. Derek Johnson reports.