Movement ban lifted and bluetongue rules eased

Defra has announced a range of measures designed to relieve pressure on farmers in areas affected by bluetongue and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

Markets will be allowed within the bluetongue control and protection zones from midnight on 14 October. Farmers will also be allowed to move their animals outside the zones for slaughter, to approved abattoirs only.

From Monday, slaughterhouses outside the bluetongue zones will be able to apply to the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) to be approved to take susceptible animals for slaughter from within the control and protection zones, provided they can fulfil specified criteria. Movements of susceptible animals to approved slaughterhouses will be subject to certain conditions, to minimise the risk of disease spread.

Defra has also announced today the intention to lift the foot-and-mouth protection zone in Surrey on 17 October provided there is no change to the disease situation. This decision has been taken following extensive surveillance in the area.

Defra also announced today the intention to lift all movement restrictions in England, outside of the FMD risk area, to coincide with the lifting of the protection zone.

The deputy chief veterinary office also confirmed that the surveillance zone will remain in place until at least 5 November, to allow for comprehensive surveillance to be completed. The FMD risk area will also remain, but the size of this area and the movement restrictions currently imposed are subject to continual review. These discussions will bear in mind the importance of completing the necessary surveillance in the area with the aim of full disease-freedom being achieved as soon as possible.

Fred Landeg, deputy chief veterinary officer, said: "We are well aware of the economic impacts of movement restrictions and the removal of the GB movement ban, outside of the FMD risk area, should help the farming industry start to get back to business-as-usual. The resumption of markets and movements to a larger number of slaughterhouses should also ease the impact felt by farmers within the bluetongue zones.

"Throughout the outbreak we have acted on the evidence, keeping controls proportionate to the disease risk. We will continue to work in partnership with the farming industry to review the size the movement restrictions in place to look at any measures we can take to relieve the burden on farmers and businesses wherever the risk level permits."