Live export ban to be overturned

A general view of the Port of Ramsgate Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

A High Court injunction is to be served on Thanet District Council overturning its decision to suspend live animal exports through a port, it has emerged.

The council will have to reopen the Port of Ramsgate to live animal movements until the outcome of a judicial review into its decision to suspend the trade.

The suspension was introduced last month after 42 sheep which arrived at the port in a lorry unfit for transporting live animals had to be put down due to their lameness. A further two drowned and two suffered broken legs.

The deaths occurred after the RSPCA provided a report to the council in the summer highlighting the port's inadequate facilities and warning of severe problems with animals in an emergency.

A letter co-written by leading council members was then sent to Environment Secretary Owen Paterson making requests, including an urgent establishment of a livestock resting facility in Kent. The local authority said the suspension would be lifted if suitable facilities could be built within the port and whether it deemed it a priority compared with other issues.

Following the suspension at Ramsgate, the operation moved to Ipswich but the port's owners also halted exports amid concerns about suitable facilities there.

Thanet District Council then received notice that it faced a judicial review over its decision to suspend exports at Ramsgate. Officials said they plan to still mount a "vigorous defence" of its action.

Council leader Clive Hart said: "The appalling incidents of September 12 were a very clear and practical indication to the council that the Port of Ramsgate is not an appropriate place to carry out the export of live animals. This is something we had been explaining to government agencies consistently for many months previously. The council is very clear in our view of this trade.

"However, if despite our strongest possible efforts to ensure the welfare of animals moving through the Port of Ramsgate, the High Court still determines that the port must reopen to this trade, then our hands are absolutely tied."

He said discussions will now take place with the council's lawyers to work out how to progress its case.