NFUS warns against further transport legislation

NFU Scotland (NFUS) has warned that Scotland's traditional livestock production is under threat from "impractical and costly" transport legislation.

The European Commission has launched a web consultation with the intention of reviewing the current legislation on travelling times and stocking densities for animals under transport.

NFUS has condemned the consultation as badly written, confusing to complete and heavily weighted in favour of reduced journey times and stocking densities. With this in mind, the union has issued a guidance on completing the form, and is encouraging individual farmers and other organisations to respond.

NFUS vice-president Nigel Miller said that it "beggars belief" that only 18 months into new EU transport rules, the Commission has chosen to reopen debate on transport times and stocking densities.

He insisted that the latest regulations - which introduced transporter authorisations and driver competence tests - would take welfare standards to a new level through Europe, and should be given time to be properly assessed before further change was discussed.

"If those behind the consultation get their way, then many journeys within the UK would be impossible - in particular, the movement of cattle and sheep from the Scottish Highlands and Islands and the transportation of pigs to England. These proposals wouldn't let us operate within our own country," he added.

"Reducing journey length, would have a huge impact on those producing cattle and sheep in our more remote areas. At the same time, cutting the numbers of stock allowed to be carried on a vehicle will drive up costs, with the possibility of delivering poorer welfare conditions for those animals being transported.

"Even if journey length cuts are restricted to those animals going to abattoirs, then the Scottish industry's reliance on slaughtering facilities elsewhere in the UK for cattle, sheep and pigs will be severely challenged."

The NFUS plans to sit down in the next few weeks with the Institute of Auctioneers and the Road Haulage Association to discuss transport provision ahead of the forthcoming autumn sales.