Charity welcomes animal transport law change plan

A UK-based equine charity says it feels like Christmas has come early after proposed reforms to EU laws on the transportation of animals for slaughter were announced.

World Horse Welfare has urged members of the bloc to support the European Commission members’ plans, which would limit journeys to slaughter to a maximum of nine hours.

The proposal follows the introduction on Monday 4 December of new legislation from the UK Government to ban live exports for slaughter.

‘Huge step’

World Horse Welfare, which is based in Norfolk, estimates that more than 14,000 horses are driven across Europe, sometimes travelling thousands of miles, before they are slaughtered.

Its chief executive Roly Owers said: “This week has seemed like Christmas come early.

“Alongside the recent news that the UK Government is moving forward with legislation to ban the export of horses to slaughter from the UK, we are now equally delighted that the European Commission has proposed a 9-hour journey limit for horses sent to slaughter, putting an end to these completely unjustifiable long journeys.

“The line has not quite been crossed yet and how any new regulation is enforced will be critical to its success.

“We need the support of EU member states to end this trade in horses for good. Nevertheless, this announcement marks a huge step in the right direction.”

‘Reduce risk’

The commission said reforms were necessary as the last major reforms to its rules around animal transportation were introduced in 2004.

It said: “Improving animal welfare first and foremost benefits the animals themselves, but also consumers and farmers. It improves food quality, enhances consumer confidence, and lowers costs caused by injury, disease, and veterinary medicines.

“It also helps to address risks to human health, such as animal-to-human disease transmission and antimicrobial resistance.”