MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee have been told that the Government has ‘failed to address’ deficiencies in the abattoir network in its consultation on livestock transport.
The consultation is focused on journeys in, or partly in, England and Wales, and includes a proposed ban on live exports, as well as reductions in maximum journey times, stricter headroom densities and restrictions on travel if outside temperatures are below 5degC or above 30degC. A similar consultation is happening in Scotland.
After the consultation’s publication, the NFU claimed Defra made little attempt to assess the financial and welfare impact of the proposed measures, while the British Poultry Council warned the plans were based on outdated research and would ‘cripple’ the poultry meat supply chain.
Now the Abattoir Sector Group (ASG), established earlier this year to develop a thriving network of local slaughterhouses across the UK, has said the Government ‘completely failed to address’ well-documented issues with the abattoir network in the consultation.
In written evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry into the movement of animals, the ASG said: “[The deficiencies in the slaughterhouse network] have been well recognised and fully highlighted to Government by the All-Party Parliamentary Group of Animal Welfare report and others.
“Given the importance of this for animal welfare, the ASG would call for greater formal scrutiny of these proposals by the Efra Select Committee, in particular on ensuring the provision of a local, sustainable network of abattoirs across the UK.”
The Countryside Alliance also highlighted a lack of abattoirs as one of the main obstacles to meeting the Government’s objective of slaughtering animals as close as possible to the point of production.
In its evidence to the committee, the CA claimed costly EU regulations had led to the closure of many smaller and medium-sized facilities.
The group’s submission read: “Fewer, larger abattoirs mean many animals have to be transported over greater distances for slaughter.
“If the Government does ban the export of live animals for slaughter, it should also explore options for how to use the opportunity of leaving the EU to support small abattoirs.”