AUGUST 1

OPEN LETTER: SLAUGHTER OF HEFTED FLOCKS

Dear Ms Kenny,

It is depressing to watch helplessly as the slaughter of irreplaceable animals continues on the Brecon Beacons, in Yorkshire and in Cumbria. This policy of devastation is incomprehens- ible, in the light of Ruth Watkins' paper, "LIMITED VACCINATION SCHEME TO CONTROL AND ERADICATE FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE FROM THE CYNEFIN SHEEP OF WALES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE BRECON BEACON NATIONAL PARK". Have you read this? If not, it is easily accessible on http://www.warmwell.com: click on "Vaccinate hefted flocks", third item down in the left-hand column of the home page.

I would be interested to hear your arguments against Dr Watkins' well-reasoned, and well-supported arguments.

As we try to work out why any government should waste billions of pounds of taxpayers' money, make a big hole in its own projected revenue, beggar or impoverish thousands of hard-working people, countenance the (frequently cruel) slaughter of millions of healthy animals, pollute the countryside, and generally inflict widespread misery on its own people, rather than institute a policy of vaccination (considered by leading world authorities to be the only way of halting a disease which may now be endemic among the wild-life population) at 50p a shot, it is no wonder that conspiracy theories are proliferating: surely only some sinister secret agenda could account for such a lack not only of sensibility, but of common sense!

Can you blame people for wondering whether FMD is being used as a convenient way of introducing controversial changes to our countryside? It is certainly true that the elimination of "uneconomic" small-scale farmers is an end devoutly wished by political elites planning "integrated spatial development" throughout "EU territory"; and there are also rumours that densely forested carbon sinks, fulfilling our Kyoto obligations at a stroke, while accommodating a future influx of docile and well-regulated tourists, are being planned for Wales and Cumbria: but even if this is what the government is aiming for, and even if it were overwhelmingly endorsed by the many individuals (as opposed to favoured special-interest groups) who actually live in the places affected, this is a mean and nasty way of driving a policy forward. Indeed, many people would call it a clearance.

When are those advocating a common-sense, humane, and thrifty policy of vaccination going to receive a respectful answer from those who have the power to ruin so many lives?

In the confidence that you are open-minded enough to take a fresh look at current policy,

Gillian Swanson.