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http://iccheshireonline.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0100regionalnews/tm_objectid=14251202&method=full&siteid=50020&headline=euro-rules-raise-fresh-doubt-over-hunt-ban-name_page.html
 
Euro rules raise fresh doubt over hunt ban

May 18 2004

By Robert Merrick Daily Post

 

A BAN on fox hunting was thrown into fresh doubt last night after claims that hunt kennels are needed to meet Euro-rules on clearing away dead livestock.

The government has asked 138 hunts - including the Cheshire Hunt, based in Northwich - to dispose of fallen stock, under regulations introduced last summer.

The Countryside Alliance said it showed kennels were essential to prevent Brussels imposing "vast fines" if dead animals continued to be buried on farms. Yet the government was widely expected to announce within weeks that a Bill to outlaw hunting altogether would be brought back - and, perhaps, forced through the Lords.

Simon Hart, the Alliance's chief executive, said: "The government is trying to outlaw the very people who are trying to help them.

"It's ironic that it's the same ministers who voted for a ban on hunting who are now relying on hunt kennels to help them comply with European Union legislation."

Under the new regulations, carcasses of cattle, sheep and pigs can no longer be buried on the farm, but must be safely rendered or burned.

The rules have been introduced to reduce the risk of devastating epidemics, such as foot and mouth disease, which crippled the country three years ago.

But the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has been forced to turn to hunt kennels for help because of a shortage of rendering plants.

The Cheshire Hunt is among those which feed the carcasses to its hounds. Many others both pick up the dead animals and dispose of them.

A Defra spokeswoman insisted any kennel taking dead animals had to upgrade to a knacker's yard - proving it had a viable future without hunting.

And she said: "Hunt kennels clearly have a useful role in disposing of fallen stock in some areas, but the quantity of material is relatively low compared to rendering and incineration."

The spokeswoman admitted an industry-run disposal scheme, costing of up to 200m a year according to farm size, was promised last year but was not yet up and running.

Westminster insiders expect the Hunting Bill to be brought back this summer, to rally Labour's troops after the expected drubbing in next month's local and European elections.

MPs voted overwhelmingly last July for a total ban in hunting, but the amended Bill was "talked out" by the Lords in the autumn.

Tony Blair has said would use the Parliament Act to overturn the Lords, if peers continue to defy the will of the elected Commons by blocking the Bill.