"Untested, unvalidated and unproven methods of control" were what led to spiralling costs.The National Foot and Mouth Group sends this:
The real reason why the costs of the 2001 FMD outbreak spiralled out of control was not because of over-inflated valuations, and excessive cleansing and disinfection costs - though in some cases both were contributory factors, it was because of the adoption of untested, unvalidated and unproven methods of control. These led to millions of healthy animals being killed and all these animals incurred further compensation costs.
The pre-emptive slaughter policy, which resulted in the contiguous and fire-break culls, meant that literally millions of healthy animals were slaughtered that need never have been culled. All these animals had to be paid for, and, in addition, all the costs of slaughter, transportation and disposal also had to be met.
Never before had pre-emptive slaughter been used to control FMD - and according to the scientific papers that have now emerged - it did not assist in controlling the disease. If anything, the divergence of resources to the mass extermination of healthy animals actually resulted in infected premises not being slaughtered as quickly as they should have been.
We know now how few premises actually had the disease confirmed. For example, in Wigtownshire, only 2 premises were laboratory confirmed as having FMD - but 219 farms were culled.
In Gloucestershire, 326 farms were culled - but only on 13 were FMD confirmed in laboratory testing. The same ratios occurred in many counties across the UK.
At the Great Orton burial pit - where nearly 1/2 a million sheep were slaughtered, yet only 1 farm had FMD identified. Not only did the 1/2 million sheep require compensation being paid to the farmers, but also incurred massive costs in digging the pits, employing slaughters teams, and transporters. And now the site requires on-going expensive maintenance as the unlined pits leach gallons of toxins which in turn require treatment - and will do so for many years to come.
Unless and until this crucial aspect of the 2001 epidemic is fully scrutinised and evaluated neither the NAO or the Public Accounts Select Committee will be able to determine how the costs of 2001 arose, and whether the UK taxpayer has received good value for the expenditure of his £3bn.
How much did the contiguous culls, the firebreak culls and the pre-emptive slaughter actually cost? What was the cost of compensation, of slaughter, of transportation and of disposal of all these animals. And how much has it cost in remedial site work, or costing in ongoing maintenance. We must have answers. It seems as far as the EU is concerned we have not had value for our tax pounds. Surely it is the purpose of the NAO and Public Accounts Select Committee to now address this.