To Lessons Learned Inquiry:I would like to make a few comments on bio-security in the Settle area of Yorkshire during the outbreak there in May 2001.
When this area became infected, the main car park in the centre of Settle was closed to the public and used to park cull lorries, store equipment, park telehandlers and similar equipment and was the waiting area for cull teams.
There were no barriers to stop the public entering the car park and the toilet block at one end was used throughout by contractors, MAFF and the general public alike.
Access to the car park was through a common entrance shared by a petrol station so traffic was going in and out all day.
At no point was this area given any disinfection point, no mats, no spraying of vehicles, no foot baths. Anyone could walk across the car park at any time - I even saw a couple on a motocycle park and walk across the compound to the toilets.
There was no disinfection regime for vehicles going through the common entrance right up to the time when MAFF finally cleared off the site to use the cull lorry compound set up at Hellifield and the auction mart at Gisburn 3 weeks on.
I complained about the severe lack of disinfectant mats around Settle. I had only found two mats (actually carpet) placed on a fell road and one on the Horton-in-Ribblesdale road. There were no mats either on the road to Clitheroe. I found this very unusual as Cumbria at that time was littered with mats. I complained to the local council and received an email back from Robin Mair of their FMD Information desk dated 22 May 2001 as follows:
>> Thank you for your comments.
Disinfecting mats on their own are of limited effectiveness in preventing the spread of the disease. Much more important is the need to observe the rules on the movement of animals and basic precautions at the farm gate.
The county looked specifically at the A65 and the surrounding area to assess the need for more mats. We are particularly guided in this by MAFF and their view was that no more mats were required.
I entirely take your point on the need to disinfect lay-bys (and the road itself where appropriate) and this does take place where necessary.
We are only too well aware of the damage being done to both the farming and tourist industry in area like Settle. We are working in partnership with others including representatives from the farming and tourism businesses to do what we can to assist businesses rebuild . We do believe that the eradication of this disease is an essential step in this process.
Please contact me again if I can be of assistance
Foot and mouth Information desk <<
I was not encouraged by this response nor did I find it logical, especially in relation to the ridiculous situation of storing all the dirty equipment centrally in the middle of the town. I also witnessed filthy telehandlers driving from farms to the compound. I dread to think what it was that was plastered all over the windscreens and bodywork but it didn't look like mud. More to the point, anything leaving a farm should be pristine if it had been washed down.
As access to some fields where animals were being slaughtered was difficult in this area, with very narrow single track lanes to isolated farms, many animals were culled and then moved down to a wall by a road. I often saw animals being loaded over a stone wall into cull lorries parked in a lay-by. However, on one occasion I saw this happen but the road was not cleaned down immediately afterwards. In fact there was no detox vehicle there at all. The lorry drove off and then I saw a vehicle pull in and stop - tourists - who had no inkling of what had been going on there just 5 minutes ago.
I also recall seeing a white transit type van driving along the A65 near Coniston Cold in the direction of Skipton with some liquid pouring out of the back all over the road. I dread to think what could have been inside the van but I understand on occasions that dead animals, when only a few in number, were transported in slaughterer's vehicles.
Another point, with regards to bio-security, was that all the vets stayed together in hotels or guest houses, dirty and clean together.
The slaughter teams stayed in all the local public houses and sat outside drinking most nights.
Early on the cull lorries were also parked up in the pub car parks.
No disinfectant mats or detox units around anywhere of course. That only came a long time later with Thirsk and the Penrith Spur.
A lot of people have commented how easily the disease spread in the Settle and Clitheroe area. Farms all along the main roads. Cull lorries also took these same routes to the renderers. So FMD could be spread very easily by vehicular movements all over this vast area. I believe Settle school was also commandeered during a school holiday but I never saw any disinfectant facilities obvious there.
I must also make some form of contrast between Cumbria and Settle area in this outbreak. The situation in Cumbria was total shutdown. Nobody went out, you never saw anyone driving around, everyone was shut up in their homes and farms for fear of spreading the disease. Disinfectant at every gate. This was well before Penrith Spur too when farms had not got the disease back there. However, a drive through West Bradford last June one Sunday was surreal. Children riding on their bikes, old ladies walking their dogs, people gardening and making the most of the sunshine - walking past fields in the village as sheep were being gathered to slaughter and the whole time the sound of boltguns culling cows in the cattle shed. This in the middle of the village and people carried on as if nothing was happening. It is the most surreal thing I have ever seen and in total contrast to people's attitude to FMD in Cumbria.
I hope some mention will be made of the atrocious bio-security in the Settle area as it was one of my main complaints at the time.
Elaine Commander HEART OF CUMBRIA