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Stop long-distance horse transport for slaughter, says MEP

September 5, 2008 11:58 AM

LibDem MEP Liz Lynne has joined a growing campaign to end the live long-distance transport of an estimated 100,000 horses across Europe for slaughter each year.

Liz has recently received several letters from constituents on the subject, so has written to EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and tabled a question in the European Parliament to see what EU action can be taken.

The organisation World Horse Welfare has been working to end the live long-distance transport of horses and is asking people to sign up to its Make a Noise campaign.

Speaking today, Liz Lynne, who has often campaigned on animal welfare issues, said:

"It is awful that horses are being packed like sardines into steel lorries where temperatures can be above 40 degrees. They often aren't fed or watered even though they might travel for thousands of miles. The overcrowding means many, especially the younger ones, become seriously distressed, injured or even die. In a modern European Union, cruelty like this is totally unacceptable.

"I have urged the EU Commission to firstly ensure that existing rules are properly enforced, with punishments to match, and I have also pressed them on the ongoing review of evidence gathered. We want to see an end to these cruel practices, so in the meantime I ask people to support this campaign and make their voice heard."

Current rules state a break must be given to the animals after every 8 hours transport, but this is often ignored.

Jo White, Director of Campaigns and Communications for World Horse Welfare added:

"There is clear evidence from our field investigations, from Member States' veterinary inspectorates and from the Food and Veterinary Office (the European Commission's health and consumer protection division) that the rules which should protect horses during transport are being ignored and that horses are needlessly suffering as a result.

"We want to see the long distance transport of horses to slaughter ended and replaced with a carcass only trade. We urge anyone with an interest to log onto www.makeanoise.co.uk to see how they can get involved and end this trade."

ENDS

Notes:

For further information please see: www.makeanoise.co.uk and www.worldhorsewelfare.org or telephone 01953 497239.

· More than 100,000 horses are transported live across Europe every year to be slaughtered for human consumption.

· The three largest exporting countries are Poland, Romania and Spain, as well as other countries.

· Journeys of more than 1,500 miles are common.

· 84% of these horses will travel to (mainly Southern) Italy, where consumption of horsemeat is very popular.

· There is clear documented evidence that the current rules are being flouted on these long journeys.

Serious welfare problems commonly seen include:

· Failure to ensure that horses are fit to travel (lameness and disease being the most common problems);

· Severe exhaustion;

· Massive dehydration;

· Injuries caused in transit and horses going down in the vehicle and being unable to get back to their feet;

· Mares being transported over long distances with unweaned foals in insufficient space (since foals are classed as unhandled / unbroken they should not be transported for more than 8 hours).

Text of the Parliamentary Question tabled to the European Commission by Liz Lynne MEP

Strong concerns have recently been expressed by my constituents over the conditions under which horses are being transported over long distances to slaughter into and across Europe.

Campaign groups advise me that around 100,000 horses are transported for slaughter every year under inhumane and at times overtly cruel conditions, and there is evidence that many Member States are not carrying out robust enforcement of EU Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005.

This results in many horses being transported which are unfit to travel, and lorries being used for transport which do not have sufficient space or headroom for the horses. A particular problem is that many journeys take place without any rest periods at all, which is entirely illegal, totally unnecessary and is a flagrant failure to observe the terms of the Regulation. The Commission has stated in response to questions from a number of Members that it is convinced of the need for better application of the Regulation, and that an impact assessment is being prepared to take into account available scientific knowledge compiled since the introduction of the Regulation in January 2007.

Now that the stakeholder consultation on possible revisions to the Regulation has closed, what is the timetable for the review of EU Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005?'