The UK Government is exploring the idea of banning live export of animals for slaughter after Brexit.
Under EU law, the UK has to adhere to 'movement of goods' regulations. But after leaving the European Union, the Government would be able to stop the trade, which saw more than 4,000 sheep transported from the UK to continental Europe for slaughter in 2016.
Call for evidence
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has launched a call for evidence for a potential ban, which 'seeks views from across industry, devolved authorities, charities and the general public on how the Government might raise standards of animal welfare during transport after the UK leaves the EU'. The consultation runs until May 22.
The Farm Animal Welfare Committee has also launched a review into the existing welfare standards for animals during transport, and this is being complemented by research commissioned by Defra from Scotland’s Rural College and the University of Edinburgh.
Respect and care
The proposals are part of a raft of legislation Gove is implementing in a bid to improve the Conservatives' image around animal welfare issues.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: "All animals deserve to get the respect and care they deserve at every stage of their lives. This call for evidence begins to deliver on our manifesto commitment which aims to control the export of live animals for slaughter once we leave the European Union.
"With all options being considered, I am keen to hear from industry, the devolved authorities and charities on all possible options and evidence on this vital issue."
Welfare campaigners are disappointed that the proposals only cover the live export of animal destined for slaughter - and would like to see them go further.
A spokesperson for Compassion in World Farming said: "Unfortunately it appears any future legislation will only relate to animals exported for slaughter. Compassion would like to see a ban on animals exported from the UK for slaughter and further fattening."
Dr Marc Cooper, Head of the RSPCA’s Farm Animals Department, also said he would like to see all live export banned.
"It's unacceptable and completely unnecessary that live animal are exported and transported over long distances for slaughter or further fattening," he said.
“We would like to see live exports from the UK banned and a maximum journey time of eight hours introduced.”