Port facing animal rights blockade

By Rebecca SheppardANIMAL rights campaigners have pledged to bring widespread disruption to Ipswich and its port if a company refuses to stop live animal exports.

By Rebecca Sheppard

ANIMAL rights campaigners have pledged to bring widespread disruption to Ipswich and its port if a company refuses to stop live animal exports.

They pledged to carry out the protest action if Ferryway did not release a statement today saying it would not transport live animals for slaughter.

The move came after the company indicated last week it had suspended shipments and halted the transportation of 500 sheep from Ipswich port's West Bank Terminal.

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However, protesters demonstrated outside the port in the early hours of Saturday after they received a tip-off that the company was going to ferry a shipment of live sheep to the continent.

Kent Action Against Live Animal Exports (KALE) claimed four lorries and trailers carrying sheep had been shipped out of Ipswich port between 12am and 3am.

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Angie Petro, spokeswoman for KALE, said campaigners had warned Ferryway that if it did not issue a statement today that it was ending the shipments, it would have "hell to pay".

She added the disruption caused would be more "in your face" than the animal rights protests in Brightlingsea, which saw 10 months of campaigning against live animal exports in 1995.

"If they do not release a statement saying they will stop, the animal rights campaigners from around the country are on standby," warned Mrs Petro.

"Things will be set in motion as from Monday. We have already set up a group in East Anglia to watch the port. In watching the port we will determine who the customers are that are using Ferryway.

"We will target legitimate customers of Ferryway too and will ask them whether it is worth the money they earn from that one shipment to lose their regular customers. I know it is a legitimate trade, but it is immoral."

Mrs Petro said campaigners had already started to block Ferryway's phone lines by calling it constantly so customers could not get through.

She warned it would not take long for a campaign in Ipswich to gain momentum and added protesters could be in the town within two hours, blocking off roads to the port.

"It snowballs. They will have the wrath of animal right protesters against them and the normal public who find it abhorrent," added Mrs Petro. "Does Ipswich really want these trucks travelling through the town?"

Following campaigns by the organisation last year, the port of Berwick-upon-Tweed refused to allow live animals pass through its docks, while Kent-based company Dartline also turned its back on the trade after two weeks of protests.

A spokeswoman from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: "Live exports are legal, but the Government has stated its strong preference to see meat exported rather than live animals.

"Because it is legal, it cannot be unilaterally banned in the UK as we also export animals for breeding and showing and lots of other things."

She added: "Banning export for slaughter is more difficult as we are allowing export for other reasons than slaughter.

"The key issue is welfare. The port will inspect to check that exports are meeting Defra's standards and, if not, they can report it.

"If there are any suspicions about animal welfare, it will be investigated. The port authority will have examined these consignments and taken a view on it."

Mike Percival, operations manager for Ferryway, said: "The managing director is issuing a statement on Monday morning regarding the company's policy. I do not want to say anything more about it at this stage."

The East Anglian Daily Times contacted Ipswich port several times on Saturday and Sunday, but no-one from its management would comment.


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