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FOREST OF DEAN FMD GROUP

PUBLIC MEETING'S UNANIMOUS CALL TO OPPOSE ANIMAL HEALTH BILL - AND FOR PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO FMD

Strasbourg Parliament invited to visit Forest of Dean to take evidence for EU Public Inquiry

Around 150 people from the Forest of Dean and surrounding area unanimously backed calls to oppose the Animal Health Bill and demand a full Public Inquiry into Foot & Mouth at last night's public meeting.

The meeting, organised by the Forest of Dean FMD Action Group at the Forest Hills Golf Club, Coleford, was attended by many farmers, rural businesses and local people. Memories of the tragedy of the Foot & Mouth epidemic in the FOD had not been forgotten and those present were determined that it must never happen again.

Carole Youngs, who chaired the meeting said "We must make sure all the lessons are learnt from the terrible events that happened in the Forest. We must also prevent the draconian provisions in the new Animal Health Act from becoming law and making it impossible for farmers to appeal against the killing of their healthy animals in the future."

Two further propositions also received unanimous support. Firstly, that "vaccination to live" must be used in future to control FMD, secondly, that the meeting supported the EU Decision to hold a Public Inquiry. It called upon the Strasbourg parliament to visit the UK to take evidence and hear at first hand the experiences in the FOD and the lack of a scientific basis for the unwarranted contiguous cull.

The meeting also heard from an experienced and diverse array of speakers:

Barbara Jordan, solicitor from Ross put forward a very clear and well argued case for opposing the new Animal Health Bill.

Peter Woods, of Vets for Vaccination, spoke of the huge human, social and economic cost to the whole community of the FMD epidemic.

Mark Harper, Conservative PPC 2001 - involved in farm gate protests, eloquently recalled the bungling, maladminstration and sheer intimidation by the Government and the Ministry.

Local farmer Bill Osborn spoke with great feeling at the legacy of unease and disquiet that followed in the wake of the misery that farmers and local people experienced in dealing with FMD.

Janet Bayley, of the National Foot & Mouth Group, described how action opposing the contiguous cull had continued after the FOD campaign and how, in preparing cases for the 3 Inquiries, it was becoming increasingly apparent that they all fell far short of a thorough, rigorous, independent Public Inquiry

Stephen Alexander from Class Law Solicitors explained the action that the UK Rural Business Campaign was undertaking to gain compensation for farmers, rural businesses and those who had suffered loss as a result of the Governments mishandling of the crisis and abuses of Human Rights.

Lawrence Alderson of Rare Breeds International clearly explained that if the new legislation was adopted this would mean some rare breeds of sheep would face extinction, and that there was no proven need for such measures.

Robert Purdie, NFU representative in the Forest of Dean, faced hostile critcism for the role of the NFU during the epidemic but defended its stance and said the NFU was not given clear advice on vaccination from the Government.

Dr Richard Lawson, Green Party spokesman on FMD, spoke of the pollution caused by the pyres and of the emotional and psyschological cost to people and communities from witnessing and experiencing the slaughter of their animals and the dreadful scenes that surrounded them.

Finally, and by no means quietly, David Handley gave a rousing account of Farmers For Action activities and what they had achieved, saying that it was only by acting together and uniting that we would gain the common goal of a full, thorough, Public Inquiry and get the proposed legislation rejected.

Papers from the Speakers are available:

Contacts:

Janet Bayley - 01285 644319 / 01285 656812

Carole Youngs - 01594 564600

Peter Woods Vets for Vaccination: 01452 523534 / 01452 520056

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