Live exports finally banned in ‘biggest day’ for animal welfare

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The live export of animals abroad for fattening and slaughter has finally been banned from Great Britain - in a move the RSPCA has labelled “one of the biggest days for animal welfare in modern history”.

On Tuesday, Members of the House of Lords voted in favour of the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill passing the final stage of its parliamentary journey. The law, which will now go on for Royal Assent, will outlaw the export of animals from Great Britain for fattening or slaughter.

The RSPCA and its supporters have been campaigning for approximately 100 years to secure an end to the gruelling and unnecessary journeys of livestock exported abroad for further fattening and slaughter.

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Transported animals have long endured crowded, gruelling and dangerous journeys on trucks - leading to mental exhaustion, injury, hunger, dehydration and stress.

RSPCARSPCA
RSPCA

Millions of farm animals have been through these journeys - some lasting for over 100 hours - when being sent abroad in cramped and poor conditions.

UK Government data shows up to 40 million farm animals, including sheep, calves and pigs, have been exported from Britain for further rearing or slaughter since the 1960s - equating to thousands every single week, or dozens every hour.

At its height, one million animals were being exported annually - and animals have travelled from ports such as Dover, Ramsgate and Brightlingsea.

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Emma Slawinski, the RSPCA’s Director for Advocacy, has campaigned against live exports for many years - and has witnessed, up close, the spectre of live animals being hauled onto trucks and exported from Great British shores overseas.

She said: “This is a momentous moment for animals - with this vote marking one of the biggest days for animal welfare in modern history.

“Sadly, I’ve witnessed up close the reality of these exports and the impact they have on animals.

“I’ll forever be haunted by the smell that comes off an export truck, and the calls of the animals inside which can still be heard as the ship leaves the port and sails into the distance. Every time I talk about the live exports of animals, that smell and those sounds come back to me.

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“Fortunately, after so many years campaigning, the mental exhaustion, injury, hunger, dehydration and stress animals are at risk of on these cruel journeys will now - once and for all - be consigned to the history books in this country.”

The RSPCA says “people power” has been a driving factor in helping the Bill over the line - as it looks to create a one-million strong movement for animal welfare in its 200th anniversary year.

Over the years, countless signatures have been gathered on petitions, thousands have attended protest marches, and weekly demonstrations have taken place from members of the public at UK ports.

Since 2014, more than 60,000 members of the public have signed up to an RSPCA campaign - urging the UK Government and parliamentarians to ensure this legislation becomes a reality.

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Emma added: “This campaign has been an incredible example of people power - and what we can all achieve together for animal welfare.

“The RSPCA turns 200 this year - and this new law really is the best birthday present imaginable. It marks a huge step forward for animal welfare that stops animals facing unnecessary, long, crowded journeys abroad causing them mental exhaustion, injury, hunger, dehydration, stress and even death. These miserable journeys have been a stain on this country’s animal welfare record for too long.

“We’d like to thank everyone who has campaigned on this vital issue, and the UK Government for acting to bring in the ban - we have all made this happen together!

“It's an incredible reminder of what we can achieve together for animal welfare, as we strive to create a better world for every kind.

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Later this week, and following the successful vote in the Lords, the RSPCA is set to team up with fellow campaign groups Compassion in World Farming and Kent Action Against Live Exports, to project a celebratory message onto the White Cliffs of Dover to mark the momentous occasion.

More information on the RSPCA’s campaigning for animals can be found online.