A consultation has been launched on the effects of a potential ban on the live export of animals for slaughter from the UK after Brexit.

UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the Government will also look at higher welfare standards for live animal movements.

The call for evidence – which will last for six weeks – seeks views from across the industry, devolved authorities, charities and the general public on how the Government might raise standards of animal welfare during transport after the UK leaves the EU.

All options for future improvements in this area are being considered – including a potential ban on the live export of animals for slaughter.

The Farm Animal Welfare Committee has also launched a review into the existing welfare standards for animals during transport.

This will be complemented by research commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which will be carried out by Scotland’s Rural College and the University of Edinburgh.

Raising animals welfare standards

It’s understood that this is all taking place in a bid to “cement the UK’s position” as a global leader in animal welfare and to deliver a ‘Green Brexit’.

Latest figures, from 2016, show that each year over 4,000 sheep are transported from the UK to continental Europe for slaughter.

British Veterinary Association (BVA) president John Fishwick welcomed the announcement.

He said: “We believe that production animals should not be transported long distances to the abattoir, but should be slaughtered as near to the point of production as possible. Animals should be transported on the hook, as meat – not on the hoof, as live animals.

“It is vital that we maintain the UK’s current high standards of animal welfare post-Brexit and seek opportunities to improve them.

“We look forward to contributing to this call and seeing the results once the evidence has been collected.”

It builds on a wide range of animal welfare reforms announced by the Government, including:

  • Making CCTV mandatory in slaughterhouses;
  • Increasing the maximum prison sentence for animal abuse from six months to five years;
  • Updating several animal welfare codes.

The evidence put forward and any future proposals will be discussed with the devolved administrations.