My Comments in RED
TRANSCRIPT OF MEETING FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE - LESSONS LEARNED INQUIRY HELD IN OKEHAMPTON
ON WEDNESDAY, 23 JANUARY 2002
Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome to this, the first of our series of public meetings of the Foot and Mouth Disease, Lessons Learned Inquiry. My name is Alun Evans and I am the Secretary of the Inquiry. On my right is Dr Iain Anderson who is chairing and leading this inquiry.
What I would like to do is just set the context of this visit but also the way in which I propose to handle the meeting, and obviously the key thing about the meeting is that it is your meeting, we are here to hear your views, not for us to speak, we want you to make sure you have got the chance to put your views. This is the first of six visits around the country and I suppose I probably should apologise if some people got their tickets rather late for the meeting, but by the nature of you being the first you had less time to hear about it, so apologies in advance if people did get their tickets rather late. Planning !
I am aiming to get the meeting over in about two hours 2 hrs x 6 meetings = 12 hours to gather a countries views.not quite enough time but obviously we can overrun a bit if necessary. In advance we have asked for notice of particular questions but not tickets that people want to raise, but obviously we will want to bring other people in as well. The areas that people said they would like to talk about covered the following broad areas - why isn't it a public inquiry, import controls, contingency planning, overall strategy and speed of response, communications, culling, disposal and the overall impact in economic and social terms. So it is a massive agenda, as you can see, and I will try and judge the mood of the meeting of when we move on from one section to another. But if you want to stay on a particular section, I am sure you will make it quite clear that you want to stay on that section and I will respond to that. How kind and civilised, unlike the barbarism that went before.
What I have done is we have been through the questions people have submitted, I will try and pick out one question to start off proceedings. Please wait until you have got the microphone in your hand, because then everyone can hear what you say and also it will be transcribed. The record of the whole meeting will form a transcript which will form part of the full inquiry report, so everything will go into the inquiry report.
The only other thing I would say before handing over to Iain is that we have been down in Devon since yesterday evening. It has been quite clear to us, even if we hadn't noticed it, that obviously this disease and the impact of it has caused enormous anguish, enormous trauma and a lot of bitterness. Well spotted We want to hear your views and we certainly want you to bring out your experience of the disease and the impact of it. The only thing I would ask is if we can try and do it in a measured way and that people do it in a sensible measured and sensiblejust like the slaughter tactics way that we can get as many questions in as possible and then we can keep the meeting as orderly as possible and make sure that you get your views heard. So thank you again for attending. I will now hand over to Dr Iain Anderson.
DR IAIN ANDERSON
Thank you Alun. Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you very much for coming out this evening. I am delighted to see what looks pretty much like a full house.
I am Iain Anderson and what I thought I would do is just take a couple of minutes, not very long, to say very briefly a little bit about me, a little bit about the inquiry that we are engaged in and the process that we are going through and what we have been up to and what we will be up to as we go around other regions in the country over the next few weeks.
I spent my life in industry, not in farming, you should know that. I have worked and lived around the world and moved to quite senior levels in a company called Unilever which many of you here will know. I retired from that about three years ago and I thought I was going to have a reasonably quiet life and for one reason or another it hasn't altogether turned out that way. The first thing that upset my quiet was I was asked just at the time I was retiring in 1998 if I would be an adviser to government on the problems that they perceived at that time in the Millennium Bug issue, the Y2K issue. And I did that for about two years chasing the Y2K that never was..gainful employment and at that time spent a considerable number of days and hours digging deep into issues related to contingency planning, I made a number of recommendations, many of which I am glad to say were adopted, and got to know quite a bit about the machinery of government, including some of its strengths and obviously some of its weaknesses.
I thought that was really the quiet times when I finished that and last summer I got a call to say would I go and speak to some folk about the possibility of doing some work how quaintly put ! on the foot and mouth inquiry. And to tell you the truth I don't know how I felt at that stage, a bit nervous, but I went anyway and as a result of these discussions I was asked quite formally would I be prepared to take on the task, which I think people recognised would not be an easy task, of leading the inquiry into what has since become known as the Lessons Learned Inquiry or the Jesus Christ, why did we do that Notetakers and that is why we are here tonight.
I won't say to you that I jumped for joy and that I was able in a minute or two to say certainly, certainly. I did go and reflect and discussed it with my wife and so on and in the end I felt that it was a very significant national issue of great importance and if a contribution could be made then I was prepared to become involved and it was as simple or as complex as that, just as you wish.
The brief was very significant and the brief was also very simply stated, I think difficult to execute but simply stated, and it is just this, to inquire into what happened during this awful outbreak across the land in 2001 and to try to extract the key lessons from the way that that disease around the country was managed, and on the basis of these lessons to make some recommendations to government, recommendations on how at any stage in the future government ought to respond, ought to "ought to" is wide open and would simply be ignored come the AHB address and manage any major infectious animal disease so its not just FMD we are talking about then ! So the experience that we are basing our thinking on "basing" but not restricted to ! is the foot and mouth experience of 2001 and the recommendations to be made slightly more broadly based than that, infectious diseases of animals in general.
That is the brief, as simple as that. Forgive me, but that is NOT a simple brief I was asked please do not start the inquiry until it is judged that this outbreak is over, and the word was judged because there is, as you know very very well, a legal formality in the picture, if it is over or it is not over. And I think I accepted that on that basis, when it is judged to be over we will get started.
The next bit of the brief was when you start we would like you to give us your recommendations in six months. That is an awesome demanding task so DURING the crisis the government could have found out things had they "briefed" somebody, knowing at the rate the FMD was being handled it would take longer than 6 minths ? but I think it is a wise one and I accepted it on that basis. We judged, and I took some advice on this, in the middle of December that it looked like the disease was behind us. Nobody who is really, really expert egh.what about the guy who said it would be all over by 7th June ? Was he not "really, really expert, such that Mr Blair took him at his word..as good as a bible ? in this would completely stick their neck out and guarantee upon the bible that there couldn't be one other outbreak, but by and large it was judged that for the nation as a whole the disease was behind us, so we opened the inquiry, we opened our website, we published a lot of information. We wrote hundreds of letters to representative bodies across the land asking them if they would please be prepared to submit views in evidence to us. That process is underway, submissions have started to come and we are informed by hundreds of others that more submissions are on their way, and we welcome them.
Another very important thing, and I want to share it with you now, that came from my dialogue at the time with the Prime Minister, the head of the Civil Service, the Secretary of State and so on, was that first of all on appointment from then on how this was done would be my decision, not government's decision, and I was very keen to explore that on the basis that I would have the independent choice to go about this and to draw the conclusions that I believe needed to be drawn. And I have had at that time categoric assurance of that and indeed in the meantime, as time has passed, I can say to you that that is the way that it is, that I have had zero interference, guidance, from any quarter of government, we are deciding how to go about doing what we have to and that is very important.
Secondly, of critical importance, I got the personal undertaking of the Prime Minister and the head of the Civil Service that if I wanted to meet and interview senior Ministers or senior officials, or indeed any officials of government who were involved in whatever way in the management of this emergency, that I would get the fullest possible cooperation from Ministers and from the officials. And I can also say to you, with no exception, that that has been the way it is and I have had the fullest cooperation and Ministers have and will continue to come and talk to us, be interviewed, provide information, evidence if you like, as will officials. Have they been given the anti-Mr Vaz cooperation jab ? And finally, just to round this point off, I sought the assurance, and got the assurance, that whatever documentation I felt was pertinent, was relevant to the work of our inquiry, from the papers of government in whatever form and wherever they may be, that if I asked for them I would get them. Like let us see the "Contingency Plans" they had for dealing with FMD !
And on that basis and taking all of these things into account we are off and we are started. And the first thing that actively now is underway is represented, as Alun has said, by our visit to Devon this week, including our meeting right now with you. And this is the first, as Alun has said to you, but we will do this six times around the country. We have looked at the major zones, the really serious concentrations of disease in the whole epidemic and we will visit each one of these regions in exactly the same way as we have done on this visit to the south west. So Wales will be next, then we will go to Scotland, the north east, the north west and Yorkshire. And if the experience of coming so far, since yesterday evening and all day today is anything to go by, I am delighted that we decided to do this. It is quite a demanding task in time terms, as you can imagine, all the preparatory work is extensive and the time away from reading and interviewing people back in our offices, but it is absolutely worth it if today's experience is anything to go by. And by the time we have been able to cover the regions of the country and get the kind of input we have been getting today, I think it will be a very significant contribution to the inquiry.
The last thing for me to say is, now here we go, we have got until 9.00 pm, there are nearly 200 people here, a lot of people would like to be able to express their opinion, to bring up a point, we have a list of some of the points that people would choose to bring up, please do. And the thing I would most of all love is that most people who want to say something have a chance to do so, and that means, and I will sit down now, but let's be as succinct as we can, to the point, as we can. Let's hear your views, I am here to listen and sometimes maybe ask for clarification and maybe occasionally answer questions, depending on what the questions are if I am competent at this stage to answer, but it is your evening. I just want you to speak up on the big issues, the key issues, the important lessons that are going forward. Remember what I am trying to do, I am trying to learn lessons and I am asking you to help me identify the biggest and the best lessons and on that basis to make recommendations to government for the future, and that is the opportunity that we have together tonight. So on that basis it is your meeting and we will respond and guide it a bit to get through as much as we possibly can. Thank you.
DR ANDERSON I thank you for that extremely proper and clear question, and that is will I publish the findings of the inquiry. Let me answer in two ways. The formal brief that I have accepted is that I will report simultaneously to the Prime Minister, to the Secretary of State and to the devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales. That is the formality and that I will do, at the same time they will receive the report. That report exactly as it goes to that audience will be published and made public, unexpurgated, verbatim, complete, and that report will include all of the extractions of lessons that we your team.not what the country thinks ? believe are there, and all of the recommendations, and that report will be supported by, if one allows appendixes to the main report, by for example the proceedings of this evening, the proceedings of stakeholder meetings that we have had during the day and across the land, all of the submissions that we receive will be published. So when we come to the report in the middle of the year there will be the I hope reasonably short I cannot see it being "reasonably short" and easily absorbed and digested central part of the report, supported indeed by all of the evidence that has been collected.
CHAIRMAN I am going to do what I said at the beginning and pick up the questions about the areas that people have asked about and the first one is linked also to the question related to the public inquiry, Robert Persey would like to ask about the manner of the public inquiry.
ROBERT PERSEY (South West Representative, National Pig Association) I would like to ask some questions on behalf of the pig industry, which I may get a chance on later. I was very concerned on reading an interview that Dr Anderson did in the newspaper this week where he appears to have prejudged certain aspects of this inquiry and I was hoping we would have somebody coming to chair the inquiry who came with a totally open mind and I would like to quote a couple of items from his interview in that newspaper where he was asked about the general election and you appear to have dismissed the relevance of the general election by saying "I don't think it is a major issue". And you went on to dismiss the rumours of where the disease came from by saying we will look at one or two of the more colourful examples and try and put them to bed. I am a little nervous that some prejudging has already taken place on some of the issues. Are there any other issues that you have prejudged. (Applause)
DR ANDERSON To the limits of my ability there is no prejudgement at all in what the key issues are, and indeed many times, including several times today, when in dialogue with people, some of whom I notice are in the hall tonight, I have said in order to keep a dialogue going, because it is not very helpful if I sit like a scarecrow, dumb, in order to have a dialogue and engaging with you I may appear to be taking a view, and it is very difficult to engage in a dialogue without taking apparently some kind of view. But I say regularly and today I assure you, to be confirmed by people today, do not take anything I say today as the expression of an opinion as to what in fact will turn out to be the critical issues, the key lessons and the recommendations going forward. And I can only say to you that that is heartfelt, if only because I understand the sense of your question, it is a perfectly proper and relevant question. And let me just add something to that, because I have been asked several times, why have you been asked, you're not a farmer, you haven't spent your life in agriculture? And the answer to that, which is the answer I got at the time of my appointment, is that we are asking you to do this because you are not a farmer, you haven't spent your life in agriculture, you do not bring the views of experience and therefore possible prejudices and your mind made up on any of the issues, we want to get someone who will take a fresh and independent view. I am conscious of that and I believe that that is exactly what you will get.
ROBERT PERSEY (South West Representative, National Pig Association) We appreciate it has to be speedy, for reasons we all understand, but on the other hand there are a lot of questions, it is nearly as if we need a stage two to come along behind to answer those questions that you are not going to have time to do justice to.
DR ANDERSON I must say you have a habit of asking some prettyquestions. Do I think I will be able to do justice, is the core of your question. Well I certainly hope so but I think it calls for a little more comment than that because I have been learning just how complex an issue this is. I have no illusions of the complexity sort of scuppers the simple brief theory then ! no illusions of the scope or even the depth of some of the issues, and furthermore I understand that I was made even more clearly aware during the course of today the depth of feeling that surrounds a number of these issues in people who had the hands on personal experiences. I understand all of that. But I am not alone. Apart from the fact that there is a full support team, apart from that, the cooperation, the willingness to come forward of people in all kinds of sectors, in all kinds of organisations who are providing some of that input, information back, opinions and experience. So it is not a lone ranger activity, it is broadly based with a lot of contributions from a lot of people. Now even then it is a daunting task. Sometimes questions can provoke one to respond with too much bravado and I don't want to do that. All I can say is I am determined, we will try our damndest, we won't be afraid to ask for inputs and help, we will take it absolutely seriously, as it needs to be taken, and in the end be judged because what comes out is yours to read and I have no doubt that if anyone here or elsewhere is dissatisfied, not only dissatisfied, I have no doubt I will be hearing from them and I have no doubt that my life will be less comfortable than I might like. And if I may just put that over and if it turns out that you are actually reasonably satisfied, you might just let me know that as well.
JUDY CARLESS (Living Exmoor) In view of the time limitation of these public meetings throughout the country, are you prepared to take written evidence from anybody who wishes to submit it and will you view all of it?
DR ANDERSON I would not only be prepared to do what you ask, to receive written material, I am asking you, I am asking everyone who has a view that they believe to be important and relevant, to what we are about, I am asking you to send it to us and I guarantee to you that it will be assessed and taken into account. And furthermore, and I need to appeal now hopefully to the sense of your reasonableness, once we have received, and I already know of hundreds of submissions that are on their way, but once we have received the material that will come in, in a number of cases I want to go back to the offers and I want to ask them to come and talk to me. Now I cannot do that with everyone who sends something in in a written form, I cannot agree to see everyone who says I would quite like to come and talk to you, it would be impossible, but I am determined to ask to come in a range of people that seem to be in their written submissions representative of or addressing particularly important and maybe controversial points so that we can have a dialogue to try to flush out and clarify some of the issues. I hope that answers your question.
GUY THOMAS-EVERARD (Farmer) I am a farmer on Exmoor. You sort of answered part of my question when you answered the first question, you said that you would publish in the form of an appendixes evidence or information that was given to you. What I would ask you to do is to conduct your inquiry in exactly the same way that Lord Burns conducted the inquiry into hunting with dogs, that inquiry was open to total degree, every written submission was posted on the internet, transcripts of all meetings were posted on the internet, lists of people who were invited to give evidence and lists of those who accepted that invitation and gave evidence and the details of the evidence they gave was also posted on the internet. Will you do the same?
DR ANDERSON I will do nearly all of that, so let me take that one on the chin. I will do nearly all of that. For example all of the written submissions that come to us will be published. The occurrence for example of all of our discussions in meetings today and across the country will all be published as part of the documentation of the report. The exchanges that take place, if for example you were to send in to me a written account of something and I said I really would like to pursue that with you further if you would come in and we will have a dialogue, will be published. And I am homing into the only area where I cannot say that they will be published in a minute or verbatim format and that is when I am asking to interview Ministers and senior officials. (Laughter among audience). In a minute, you can all express your views on that and I can see understandably some of the smiles and the laughter and so on. There are several reasons for that. Of course there is..the Official Secrets Act and the arse covering exercise these pathetic ministers will get up to
One is that at the time that my inquiry was set up, it was set up in a way that would not be, as you would call it, the full and open with the TV cameras, the press in the background, for every one of the interviews, it was set up in that way and I accepted it on that basis, that is just a fact, I accepted it on that basis. I believe, notwithstanding the way that this could be spun a little bit, that I will get more of the candour and exchange that will lead me to understand what the critical issues have been, what the critical lessons have been, what went wrong and why it went wrong, and I will use that to the full in informing these recommendations. So there are two sides to that. Tails the government wins, heads the farmers loose One is that it was a condition that I accepted at the time of the inquiry and I believe that it will not as a matter of fact let the inquiry down in that sense. And one of the reasons for that is this is a Lessons Learned for the future. And I have said, because I have been asked many times now, about finding individuals to blame, I have been asked in a sense to be recriminative, we want to know who to hang, nobody takes the blame for the biggest cock-up in history then and I have said that is not the inquiry that I have agreed to conduct. I have said that what I wanted to do was get to the bottom of the critical lessons and use these lessons to make recommendations. And in the end you will see, but I can assure you that I would not hesitate if I had doubts now, I would share that with you, believe me, that the dialogue that is starting now to take place between me and officials and Ministers will inform this inquiry massively and importantly. And I don't believe, and I stand here before you to say that, and I understand that it is not a view that is shared by the expressions that you revealed a few minutes ago, I understand that, but I am standing here saying I am not bothered by that.
GUY THOMAS-EVERARD (Farmer) Can I just come back to you on one issue where I think your inquiry will fall down if it isn't totally open, because what you are effectively doing is you are preventing comments, you are only really going to hear one side of the story. Take the contiguous cull for example, there are two opposing camps on this, there are people who are deeply opposed to the policy and those who feel it was a success. Now if you are allowing government officials to only talk to you behind closed doors then the opponents are never going to have an opportunity to counteract their argument, they are not going to say he said this, that is factually wrong, because they won't know what they said. And that is where your inquiry is really very badly flawed if you won't have it totally open. (Applause) superb point Guy..and check-mate.
DR ANDERSON A number of things really. Remember, I am not alone, I am informed day by day more by people like yourself and others in this room, I am developing a list of all of the counter arguments. Furthermore, if in fact official side of government makes a claim, I assure you that that claim will be laid out in the report, it will not be a mystery to you at the end of the day, so it won't be something that you are unable to take a judgment on. And I suggest that when we come to that point you will have none of the concerns that you now have that these issues have either been missed or fudged or anything else. So you can question the people involved openly, but you cannot question government in the view of the people ? How very convenient.
GUY THOMAS-EVERARD (Farmer) Prior to drawing a conclusion, Lord Burns allowed people a period of time to comment on previous submissions. Will you do the same in this inquiry?
DR ANDERSON What did he do exactly? Just help me understand that.
GUY THOMAS-EVERARD (Farmer) What he did, effectively he had two stages of submission. You made all your submissions, as you are doing, they were then published on the internet and then people had an opportunity to comment on the first submission to put right any facts that they felt that the other side had got wrong.
DR ANDERSON The submissions that will come into us will be published. I am not saying that we get them one day and they will be published the next day, but the submissions that come in, using the example of people in this hall and many other organisations, will be published as they come, you won't have to wait until at the end of the day if you like there is no opportunity for you to comment.
GUY THOMAS-EVERARD (Farmer) You have misunderstood me. What I perceive is to have an opportunity, before you draft your report or before you publish the report even, is that people have an opportunity to comment on government claims and submissions so that we can see what has been said and then we can comment on anything that we feel is wrong and then you draw your conclusions from that.
DR ANDERSON I will undertake not only to look at that but to respond to that in the most open possible way because I understand the value of what you are saying. And let me just say, I have no interest that in this regard is in any sense different from your interests. I am actually trying to get to the bottom of all of these things and on the basis of that to extract some lessons and make some recommendations. I have no interest in coming to a half baked solution, none. What a disaster that would be, what a waste of time. I will come back and be held to it.
QUESTION: that report needs to be commented on we need to know about it. There are all sorts of rumours and myths going around about the causes and when it started and when the whole disease came around, had it started months before, we let it get out of control, it is those sorts of things and we need to know the truth of that.
DR ANDERSON I agree with that.
QUESTION: I believe that in five months time you should publish a draft which everybody in this room, if they wish to, can comment upon and come back to you. And even, once you have done half of your interviews, should be able to come back to us because we are the first, there will be lots of things left un-thought of, uncommented upon, which will come out of the other meetings that we would probably want to bring up ourselves, biosecurity, communication, and this is the point. We have got a key point here, communication, but the key point is communicate with everybody involved all the way through. Do not come down here and then go away and leave the west country, oh well we've been there, we don't need to worry about them any more.
DR ANDERSON Let me have a look at it. I like the point and I am just in my mind trying to process it in a practical way.
CHAIRMAN I think we need to move on.
DR ANDERSON That is good, please keep doing that, please move the meeting on, I only want to talk about what you want to talk about.
CHAIRMAN If you sit down, Iain, we will move on to other questions. Is there a question from David Ursall who wanted to ask about import controls.
DAVID URSALL I am already worried because we know what happened as a result of the Burns report, the government totally disregarded it. And we were told this was a meeting for us this week, but we have had nearly three quarters of an hour and I have heard very few people so I will be very quick. It is an issue that everybody knows about, the illegal import of meat from abroad. Yes we want to stop it but what about the legal imports, those that are coming from the Argentine, from Botswana? We have been telling the government for so long but they don't listen. We don't have foot and mouth in this country, it has come from abroad, we can stop it, but they won't. (Applause)
QUESTION: ( warmwell addition: this was Richard Haddock) Five years ago we highlighted to this government by going to Plymouth, ports at Hull, Poole and others, what was coming into this country five years ago, coming in under the Food and Plant Regulation, ie vegetables. We climbed through those chiller lorries with police presence, they witnessed it, on the lorry manifest that come via Ireland into this country from third countries in Europe, half of those cargoes were carrying meat. Nothing was done about them, nothing is still done today and it is still coming in. We are still getting head meat from southern Ireland, we are still getting over 30 month beef coming from all over into this country today. I also sit, for my sins, on the Food Standards Agency Representative of the NFU and I have hit them with a written question and I have still not been replied to.
QUESTION: I travel a great deal in my job with electronic communications and I have been through Ireland, France, America and I have had dog prints all over my bags when I have picked them up in America. Why don't we have that same situation? I have had my shoes cleaned by umpteen agricultural groups in other countries because I live in the countryside in Devon. Well where do you come from Sir? Devon. Do you live on or near a farm? Yes. Would you like to bring your shoes in here. Now why don't we have that simple situation and punitive fines for people who bring stuff into this country legally. A $10,000 fine for bringing a meat sandwich into America is pretty punitive.
ROSS CHERITON I spent three weeks in New Zealand after we had foot and mouth. They radically improved their biosecurity arrangements after the UK went down with it, they invested in colour x-ray machines and a huge number of dogs, rather like the other person was saying, to sniff out anything, and every single bag that comes off a plane is put through an x-ray machine and any boat that comes to the dock is met by dogs to sniff out whatever is going on. I am not suggesting that we can do something like that, because we have far more people coming into this country than they do, but there needs to be punitive actions on those people that are caught and possibly some very high profile court actions, indeed the New Zealand government prosecuted the Australian Rugby League team for failure to clean their boots, and they did that to keep the news and to keep their biosecurity in the public zone so that everybody knew about it and there just needs to be an increase in biosecurity all around every port of entry.
DR ANDERSON I don't have any comments except to say that in response to all of these points, the questions you raise are firmly on our agenda, we are looking at that, we are asking for background information on that and there is not a shadow of doubt that we will be making some observations, making some recommendations on that basis. You are raising it here it has been raised by many other people in addition to yourself.
CHAIRMAN If we could move on to take questions on contingency planning, which has also been raised.
ALAN MARSHALL Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak. I would really like some contingency plans in place for the future because as this late stage we have got absolutely nothing and we really need it as soon as possible.
QUESTION: I have spent the past 30 years in the police force, for the last 16 years I was involved in emergency planning, action during emergencies and exercises. I witnessed at first hand in those terms a lamentable lack of emergency planning when the outbreak took place. It appeared that nobody was in command on the ground, nobody knew who to turn to to get things and it was a complete and utter shambles. I feel that in the future there should be regular emergency exercises involving all the people involved and making a list of who to contact and keeping them up to date, similar to the emergency plans in the council are run for flooding.
QUESTION: I wish to speak about Ash Moor and the lack of contingency planning. What I will say will take me four minutes. Mr Chairman, it is clear to those who dealt with MAFF over Ash Moor that there were no contingency plans, either national or local, for the mass disposal of animal carcasses caused by the foot and mouth disease. Everyone was faced therefore with a major liquefaction experiment I suppose it is best called, of up to 400,000 carcasses on the moor. The site was hurriedly chosen off a map, there was minimal ground reconnaissance. Permission, both planning and environmental, was retrospective and work started before any local consultation. This consultation, once a meeting with MAFF had been initiated by the local people, was deceitful, dishonest and consequently emotive. MAFF treated the residents of Meeth and Petrockstowe as half-wits. There were four public meetings in six weeks. In the event local people, and there are 31 of them here tonight, knew far more about the area of Ash Moor, the science and the technology than the so-called experts. This lack of contingency planning led to firstly families being invited to leave their homes, secondly some #7 million being spent on the construction of a site later found to contravene the simplest regulations, which has left the government being taken to the European Court by local people raising thousands of pounds to do so, thirdly, continuing blight upon the local population and their property, and lastly, the nightly noise and night pollution which are a major constant source of irritation. The hole is costing, as you know Sir, #20,000 per week of taxpayers' money with still no end in sight. Will your recommendations include therefore, firstly, the immediate reinstatement of Ash Moor (Applause) in accordance with the original Devon County Council planning consent and their recent instructions to DEFRA. Your own remit allows you to make that recommendation now. I have down on Ash Moor this morning, so you may wish to telephone in the morning, that will prevent you going down there again. Secondly, the total abandonment of the mass disposal of carcasses in liquefaction barrows. Thirdly, money which is earmarked for disposal of carcasses be used to purchase this country's own incineration equipment rather than hiring and importing burners by air from America, incineration being recognised, after rendering, to be the best method of carcass disposal. Lastly, if liquefaction is wholly inadvisably seen as a method of mass disposal, then proper local consultation, planning consents and environmental risk assessments are all sought before any construction work is carried out. (Applause) In other words, that responsible contingency planning is properly undertaken now, without delay, by officials who know what they are doing.
CHAIRMAN I will ask Iain to respond to that, but I should tell members of the audience who don't know, we did visit Ash Moor Pit today and met members of STAMP, but Iain I don't know if you want to say anything on that and more generally on the point raised about contingency planning by the two earlier questions.
DR ANDERSON First of all on the general points of contingency planning mentioned by each of the speakers, I recognise that this is a central question, it has come up tonight, it has come up today. Large parts of the day have been spent with various people engaging on aspects of contingency planning. I expect that that kind of discussion will continue as we go around the country. I certainly will not venture a finished discussion make an interim recommendation on contingency planning, I think you would understand and not expect me to do so. But I think from the force of the input so far and from an early assessment of the critical importance of the subject, you can take it that the question of contingency planning will be very, very thoroughly and urgently dealt with. On the specific questions related to Ash Moor, we did visit there, we chose to visit there this morning. We met a number of people from the STAMP organisation. They verbally expressed their opinion to me and gave me a number, as you Sir have just done, they also passed over to me quite some detailed documentation that they have asked me to study, and that will be done. And if you would, although we have captured your words, I think you have a note before you, if you would be kind enough before you leave this evening to pass that over to me or one of my colleagues, I assure you that that will be carefully studied as well. And I understand the seriousness with which a number of people in the community are looking upon this issue and all I can say is that we will take very carefully into account the material that has just been passed over today.
JOE SKINNER (Dairy Farmer, Meeth) This follows on from Mr Aldridge's question. The properties in the area of the Ash Moor Pit have depreciated in value by up to 40% if they are close to the pit, properties in the villages and further from the pit by a lesser amount. What mechanism will government put in place to compensate those people who are forced to sell until the pit is reinstated? I am thinking of people retiring, people whose jobs mean that they have to move, even people who are unable to continue in their businesses because of the financial losses from foot and mouth. They should I think be compensated. This is a government action that has caused loss of value to their properties. I would point out to you, Sir, that you will meet this question again at Deepmore in Torrington, in Heathfield in south Devon where they are already having health problems from the effluence from the site, you are also going to meet it in Cumbria, Lockerbie, Northumberland and you might have met it in Wales except that it fell apart and had to be abandoned. (Applause)
CHAIRMAN We haven't met any of those yet because we haven't been to those areas, but we will clearly meet them all when we do go to those areas.
QUESTION: I want to go back to when it first started because I was the second farm to go down in Devon and my farm, I rent out to Willie Cleave, it was all his cows, there were 126 cows and 60 sheep on the farm. Anyhow I didn't know anything about it until the Sunday and I told Mr Cleave I would look after his cows, don't come near the farm. The Ministry man came there at 12.00 on the Sunday and looked round all the cattle and everything was OK, so I told Mr Cleave not to come, I would look after his cattle. So on the Monday I saw a cow going down, midday, 12.00, so I phoned the Ministry and told them about it and they said well we gathered they were going to go down and we will be there as soon as possible. Well I never had no disinfectant, no nothing. I told the vet on the Sunday I had not disinfectant, I was penned in on my farm with the police and everything, I couldn't get out. On Monday this cow went down, on Monday afternoon I phoned again, are they coming out. Somebody is coming out. Tuesday came, no-one ever came. This cow was down on the ground by then and about 20 others looking in the symptom. No-one ever came and I phoned them, and phoned them, and phoned them and as one woman said, you will have to go yourself to get disinfectant to Barnstable, or Mr Cleave will have to bring it down. Well Mr Cleave couldn't come to the farm and I couldn't get out to get it. So Wednesday I went down the farm and the cow was on the ground, he had no hooves on or nothing, it was really bad, it was worse than what it was at Mr Cleave's. On Wednesday the doctor came, he got the disinfectant, he brought it at 2.00 in the afternoon, the vets came at 5.00 that night and what they saw was unbelievable, they had never seen anything like it. The next day when they shot them one of the cows was dead and they buried them on my farm, they lit the fire, and we told them it was in such a wet spot where they were going to do it, it was on a bog, or it was a spring there, and they went ahead and done it and those cattle were burnt and buried on my farm in a hole where you wouldn't put anything else. It was just unbelievable really how we were treated and I am disgusted with it all. (Applause)
DR ANDERSON Thank you for your contribution.
WENDY VEER (warmwell addition This was Wendy Vere) (Vet) Just on the line of contingency planning, we have heard Mr Haddock's submission on illegal and legal imports and I am glad to hear that the government is going to be doing something about it, although I doubt anything will be done. The whole problem with Ash Moor and the disposal of carcasses, this enormous great stinking mass of carcasses that we had in the whole of Devon, was because we had masses and masses of animals that need never have been slaughtered in the first place. (Applause) And since this is supposed to be a Lessons Learned Inquiry, I would very much like the government to answer my question and many other people's questions on why so many animals were slaughtered unnecessarily when they did not have foot and mouth disease and were never at risk of getting foot and mouth disease. Any contingency planning must be put in place which will identify the animals that are at risk of getting the disease and slaughter those animals I would only slaughter animals WITH the FMD.not just "at risk"..we are getting back to the SOS mentality only and not generate huge masses of carcasses which