Council lifts Ramsgate animal exports ban

Image caption Thanet council temporarily banned live exports from Ramsgate but the High Court overturned the move

A council has backed down over plans to ban live animal exports through a Kent port after receiving legal advice.

Live exports through Ramsgate were banned by Thanet District Council after 47 sheep died in September.

Last month the High Court overturned the authority's temporary suspension on animal exports through the port until the outcome of a judicial review.

On Thursday the council said the basis on which the ban had originally been imposed "could no longer be sustained".

It said it was officially lifting its ban on live animal transportation with immediate effect and asked the operators of the ship Joline, which was used to transport live animals from Ramsgate, to drop its legal proceedings.

Transporters and the owners of the ship had been seeking a judicial review of the council's decision to impose the ban.

The case was expected to be heard in the High Court on 11 December.

Thanet councillor Michelle Fenner said: "Our position has always been to work within the legal framework to ensure the welfare of animals.

"The decision to impose the temporary ban at the port was not taken lightly, following the horrific incidents in September, and we still consider this action to have been correct.

"In terms of now having to lift the ban, our hand has again been forced as we are duty bound to act in accordance with the law. We have to consider our absolute obligation to protect the public purse.

"As we've done everything in our power to get to this point, it is disappointing, however we have worked extremely hard in recent months and will continue to push the agencies involved in whatever legal way we can to ensure that the welfare of animals is protected."

The council also said its decision followed the news that Defra has been undertaking a review into the transportation of live animals.

Protesters who have been campaigning for the live exports to cease said they were disappointed at the decision.

"I'm gutted," said Michelle Parry. "I stand up for the sheep and the live animals that are being transported.

"They haven't got a voice so we go down there to protest to try and stop the trade."

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