Kent

Live animal exports in Dover berthing trial

Ramsgate protest
Image caption Live animal exports at Ramsgate have attracted protests for several years

The operator of a ship used to export livestock from the UK has applied to sail from the Port of Dover.

Dover Harbour Board (DHB) said Barco de Vapor, which currently operates from Ramsgate in Kent, had applied to berth the MV Joline from the Eastern Docks.

Thanet council banned live exports from Ramsgate last year but the ban was later overturned by the High Court.

DHB said a full berthing trial would be carried out before any decision was made on whether Dover could be used.

It said Barco de Vapor wanted to carry livestock transporter vehicles to and from Calais.

Call for ban

Forty four sheep were put down at Ramsgate in September when a lorry was stopped at the port and the animals were found to be sick and lame.

In a separate accident, a loading area floor collapsed and three more died.

In December, Laura Sandys, Conservative MP for South Thanet, called for a ban on live animal exports in the House of Commons, saying only slaughtered meat should be sent to Europe via Ramsgate.

The RSPCA, which also opposes the live exports trade, describes the MV Joline as an open-decked, flat bottomed converted Russian tank transporter.

'Legal trade'

DHB said that, as was normal for all new vehicle ferries, there would be an initial trial to ensure the moorings and vehicle loading bridge was fit for purpose for MV Joline.

"The High Court has made it crystal clear that ports must facilitate this legal trade," DHB said in a statement.

"But DHB will be rigorous in demanding that all aspects of animal health and welfare are fully complied with and that the vessel meets all mandatory and operational requirements.

"DHB will therefore be liaising closely with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and its regulating agency, the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, throughout this process."

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