by Countryside Alliance

On 3rd December the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Welsh Government launched a consultation “on improvements to animal welfare in transport”. The main proposal is a ban on the live export of animals for slaughter or fattening, excluding poultry. However, the consultation also proposes to amend the rules around the transport of animals, including horses. 

The current rules are derived from European law and while the consultation proposes changing the legal standards, the scope of the law is not changing in terms of who is covered by the law and who is not. If you are currently required to comply with transport of animal regulations then these proposed changes are relevant to you.

The current law applies to anyone transporting animals in connection with an economic activity. There is an exemption for farmers moving livestock up to 50 kilometres in their own vehicles, and only minimal requirements apply to animals that are transported up to 65 kilometres. However, the legal requirements are greater for journeys over 65 kilometres and eight hours or less, classified as short journeys, and for journeys over eight hours, classified as long journeys. 

The Government is proposing changes which would impact those transporting animals on both short and long journeys, i.e. anyone transporting animals in connection with a commercial activity more than 65 kilometres.

Of potential significance is:

  • The proposed reduction in maximum journey times – 12 hours for horses, after which a new minimum rest period of 48 hours (up from 24 hours) would be required before a further journey could be undertaken;
  • A ban on transporting animals when external temperatures are outside certain ranges, unless the transport vehicle is able to maintain the internal temperature within that range. For livestock and horses that range is being proposed at 5 – 30 degrees Celsius;
  • New space allowances;
  • New headroom allowances;
  • Ban on sea transport in certain weather conditions.

While the Alliance welcomes any change to the law which represents a genuine improvement in animal welfare, we are always conscious of unintended consequences. Those involved in transporting animals, and who are covered by the law on animal transport would be advised to consider the consultation proposals and respond. The consultation can be found here.

Nothing in the consultation changes the obligation on all those with responsibility for animals to ensure their welfare at all times. 

The consultation closes on 28th January 2021.

Should you require any further advice or wish to discuss anything further then please do not hesitate to contact our Head of Political, James Legge, on 020 7840 9263.

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