Responding to the publication of DEFRA's 'Animal Welfare in Transport' consultation findings, Shetland’s MSP, Scottish Liberal Democrat Beatrice Wishart, highlighted the ongoing need to take proper account of island-specific concerns. Ms Wishart also welcomed DEFRA’s commitment to "further discussions" with "remote rural communities such as the Scottish Islands" in relation to their proposals, including maximum journey times.
The consultation findings acknowledged the lack of local abattoirs in Scottish Islands and that there are "specific concerns" about the effect of proposals on farmers in more remote areas of the UK. DEFRA also noted "geographic constraints" as appropriate reasons for exception as suggested by respondents.
This follow calls from Ms Wishart and Orkney MSP Liam McArthur, earlier this year for the Scottish Government to consider a more tailored and island-specific approach to proposed changes to live animal transport arrangements.
Ms Wishart said:
“I am pleased that the UK and Scottish Governments have listened to stakeholders from Shetland and Orkney. Proposals put forward earlier in the year would have had a devastating impact on livestock farming in the Northern Isles.
“Recognition of the unique needs of the isles appear to have been acknowledged in these findings. Livestock transport to the Scottish mainland already follows high welfare standards, while crofters and farmers put animal welfare at the heart of their work.
“We must now keep a close eye as the consultation is incorporated into future proposals. We cannot allow any unintended consequences that could threaten the viability of livestock production in Shetland’s and Orkney’s farming and crofting communities.”
Note to editors
The DEFRA 'Animal Welfare in Transport' consultation findings summary and UK Government response can be found here.
Shetland and Orkney MSPs, Beatrice Wishart and Liam McArthur, calls for a more tailored and island-specific approach can be found here.