The U.K. government is today launching an eight-week consultation into ways of protecting animal welfare in transport, including a ban on live exports for slaughter and fattening.
Other proposals under consideration in the review include reduced maximum journey times, more spacious berths for animals in transit and tighter rules for transport by sea.
“Today marks a major step forward in delivering on our manifesto commitment to end live exports for slaughter. Now that we have left the EU, we have an opportunity to end this unnecessary practice,” said George Eustice, the environment and farm minister. “We want to ensure that animals are spared stress prior to slaughter.”
If the plan comes to fruition, the U.K. would become the first country in Europe to end the practice.
Live animals often suffer distress and injury on excessively long journeys, where campaigners say that overcrowding, dehydration and disease are rife.
The CEO of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Chris Sherwood, said a ban on live animal exports now would be “a landmark achievement for animal welfare.”
Compassion in World Farming’s Chief Policy Adviser Peter Stevenson said the group was “delighted” at the news. “We urge farmers not to oppose the proposed ban but rather to recognise that this is an important part of moving forward to a high welfare future,” he said.
Around 6,400 animals were transported from the U.K. directly for slaughter in continental Europe in 2018, according to government figures.