Responding to the publication of DEFRA's 'Animal Welfare in Transport' consultation findings, Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has called to "remain vigilant" and for the ongoing need for to take proper account of island-specific concerns.
The consultation findings highlighted 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.
Mr McArthur welcomed acknowledgment of the concerns raised by island communities and DEFRA’s commitment to "further discussions" with "remote rural communities such as the Scottish Islands" in relation to their proposals, such as maximum journey times.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
"The proposals issued for consultation by the UK and Scottish Governments earlier this year caused understandable alarm in Orkney and Shetland. It is no exaggeration to say that the additional restrictions being put forward would have halted livestock farming in the Northern Isles at a stroke.
“The response from a wide range of stakeholders in Orkney and Shetland could not have been clearer and thankfully it appears that this message has got through to Ministers in Edinburgh and London. Livestock shipments between the Northern Isles and Scottish mainland already operate to high welfare standards and imposing further restrictions with no added welfare benefit is wholly unjustifiable.
"I welcome this recognition of the distinct nature of livestock transport in our islands. However, it will be important to remain vigilant as amended proposals are developed to ensure there are no unintended consequences for the farming sector in Orkney and Shetland."