UK Politics

Plan to end long journeys to slaughter for livestock

Sheep being transported Image copyright Getty Images

Transporting animals on long journeys for slaughter could be banned, under animal welfare plans unveiled by the Conservative party.

Under the move, livestock would have to be sent to the closest abattoir - effectively banning most live exports.

It is one of a number of animal welfare and environmental policies set to be discussed at the Tory party conference.

Others include creating a £1bn fund to boost the electric motor industry and a pledge to plant one million new trees.

The party said the earlier attempts to restrict the journey time for live animals had been "prevented by EU single market rules".

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said the proposals would "choke off" the live exports trade and help protect animals.

Other animal welfare measures to be discussed at the conference, which begins in Manchester on Sunday, include:

  • a move to ban all trophy hunting imports
  • making micro-chipping for domestic cats compulsory
  • an outright ban on keeping primates as pets

Labour has already pledged similar reforms in its animal welfare manifesto, published last month.

Is it legal to own primates?

In the UK, primates which are not considered to be dangerous can be bought and sold freely. The RSPCA estimates that thousands of primates are kept as pets in the UK.

Would-be owners must apply for a licence to purchase species considered more dangerous, including apes, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and gorillas.

Government guidelines detail the environment, diet and other criteria an owner should consider to meet the needs of a primate.

Breaching this code is not illegal, but a court may take into account whether owners have complied with advice when deciding if they have committed an offence under the Animal Welfare Act.

Meanwhile, ministers have committed £1bn to help boost the production of key "green" technologies in the motor industry, such as batteries, electric motors, power electronics and hydrogen fuel cells.

The government has also pledged to invest £220m to help develop a fusion power station by 2040, which ministers said could offer "limitless electrical power with minimal waste".

They said the investment would help to create thousands of skilled, well-paid jobs.

The Tories also plan to plant up to one million trees in three new forests in Northumberland by 2024, in addition to creating more so-called "pocket parks" on small pieces of derelict or undeveloped land in towns and cities.

Ministers said the measures were part of a package to help make the UK carbon neutral by 2050.

Ms Villiers said the party's proposals "will enhance our landscape, improve our quality of life and protect the climate for future generations".

But Friends of the Earth said the propositions were "nowhere near" enough to to tackle the scale of climate change.

"If the government is serious about slashing climate pollution, it needs to stop fracking, stop filling the skies with more planes, and stop funding oil and gas projects abroad and instead invest in public transport, renewable energy and doubling UK tree cover," said chief executive Craig Bennett.

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