RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant has spoken out against live transport as the first lorries bringing lambs to the port of Ramsgate, since the High Court forced it to reopen, arrived on Friday.
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant has spoken out against live transport as the first lorries bringing lambs to the port of Ramsgate, since the High Court forced it to reopen, arrived on Friday (October 19, 2012).
Following Thanet District Council’s decision to close the port, Mr Justice Burton granted “interim relief” and said the port should reopen pending a judicial review of the council’s decision, to be held before December 1.
Despite an RSPCA report highlighting the inadequacy of the port’s facilities, Justice Burton is said to have “laid great weight” on DEFRA’s view that the provision of emergency facilities at the port itself is unnecessary and that the existence of contingency premises within an hour’s drive is sufficient safeguard for animal welfare.
However, the RSPCA claims events in September show the need for emergency facilities at the port.
The court also heard from transporters who said they would lose customers and their businesses would be irreparably damaged if they were prevented from transporting up to 75,000 live sheep to France for the Festival of Eid and to cover other weekly orders.
Following the High Court’s decision, lorries carrying up to 3,500 sheep arrived at the port on Friday, all of which were checked by RSPCA inspectors and an independent vet. Concerns were raised over three of the vehicles, but were dismissed by DEFRA officials.
Mr Grant said: “This ruling has put profit above animal welfare.”
Speaking on Friday, he added: “I was determined to be present in person along with my RSPCA inspectors to witness what occurs here today. This is a vile trade which has no place in a civilised society. It is only sustained by the demand for animals to be used in ritual slaughter. Yet the number of sheep being transported far outweighs the number needed for consumption by the faithful.
“These poor creatures are being killed without stunning and some of the meat may be making its way onto the plates of unknowing families across Europe. It has to end now.”