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Agriculture: Sheep

Volume 689: debated on Tuesday 20 February 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will take steps to dismantle the regulations on the identification and traceability of sheep, in view of the fact that they have acknowledged that there is no bovine spongiform encephalopathy in sheep. [HL1950]

EU rules governing the identification of sheep and goats are laid down in EU Council Regulation 21/2004. These rules are intended to improve our ability to trace animals in the event of an animal health disease outbreak, such as foot and mouth disease. We have no plans to change the current rules.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 10 January (WA 88), whether they have any specific evidence that the on-farm burial of sheep has caused water pollution. [HL1951]

It is difficult to demonstrate with certainty that any specific incidence of burial would lead to water pollution. However, the rules in the EU Animal By-Products Regulation 1774/2002/EC which ban on-farm burial of fallen stock were made on a precautionary basis influenced by the evidence provided in a number of scientific opinions from the EU's scientific steering committee (SSC). The evidence relating to those opinions was last considered at an SSC meeting on 16 and 17 January 2003. The following uncertainties were identified:

location of burial sites;

potential for transmission of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) from specified risk material buried near the surface was poorly characterised;

extent to which infectivity would be reduced by burial;

penetration of prions into leachates and groundwater; and

dangers arising from “re-engineering” in areas where previous burial of TSE-contaminated material had occurred.

Given these uncertainties, the committee confirmed its earlier view that the burial of animals poses a significant risk.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 10 January (WA 88), and in view of the fact that the European Union allows the burial of sheep in certain designated areas, whether they will now consider licensing such activities in upland and less-favoured areas where hitherto the practice was widespread. [HL1952]

No. The derogation is only available under the EU Animal By-Products Regulation 1774/2002/EC in those parts of the UK which meet the regulation's remote areas criteria. These are areas where the livestock population is so small, and where disposal facilities are so far away, that the arrangements for collection and transport would be unacceptably onerous compared to local disposal. The only areas fitting these criteria in the UK are parts of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, the Scilly Isles and Lundy Island in England, and Bardsey Island and Caldy Island in Wales.