Hundreds join animal protest at Dover docks

Contributed by editor on May 06, 2006 - 05:54 PM



Carla Lane

Hundreds of people protested in the pouring rain against live calf exports, three days after a decade-long ban on exporting British beef was lifted.

Waving placards, blowing whistles and beating drums, the demonstrators, who fear the return of sales to Europe will expose animals to unnecessary suffering, marched through Dover to the Eastern Docks from where the first shipment of live calves left in the early hours of Friday aboard the cargo ship, MV Toucan.

Marchers included members of Bristol vegetarian group Viva! the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF). 

They were joined by screenwriter Carla Lane, who runs an animal sanctuary. 

Former MEP Stanley Johnson, Boris Johnson's father, who is a long-standing member of CIWF, addressed the crowd. 

The beef ban was brought in to stop the spread of mad cow disease in 1996 but EU vets agreed to lift it earlier this year due to the plummeting number of cases of BSE in Britain.

The industry says renewed live cattle exports will help it claw back trade previously worth some £650 million a year.

The lifting of the beef ban means live cattle born on or after August 1, 1996 may be exported, along with beef from cattle slaughtered on or after June 15, 2005. Restrictions remain in place for beef containing vertebral material and for beef sold on the bone.

The use of veal crates is already banned in Britain and is set to be stopped across the EU from January 1 2007.