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Natural England Statement on Foot and Mouth Disease and Public Access 09/08/07

Natural England and Local Government Association – 9 August 2007

This statement seeks to clarify the position that Local Authorities should take in relation to access provisions in view of the current localised outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Surrey. The situation in Surrey is that three kilometre Protection Zones and a ten kilometre Surveillance Zone have been set up by Defra around infected premises. In addition, a national movement ban of all ruminants and pigs has been imposed.

walkers

Local authorities have powers under animal health legislation to exclude the public from land in Protection Zones where this is judged necessary in order to prevent the spread of animal disease, but may only act with the consent of the Secretary of State. Consent has now been granted to Surrey County Council to employ these powers in relation to the first designated Protection Zone. Defra’s decision to authorise the use of these powers in a given area is determined by the disease risk as assessed on the basis of the evidence.

Current veterinary advice is that, outside a protection zone, the risk of rights of way users or other visitors to the countryside spreading Foot and Mouth disease is extremely low. Rights of way and other access arrangements elsewhere should therefore remain open and available for use. There should be a clear presumption in favour of maintaining this public access. The only impact on visitor attractions should be those which result from the restrictions on animal movements or those imposed by the attractions.

If restrictions to access are authorised in any particular case, prohibitions on access under animal health legislation override normal access provisions, so no separate restriction processes need to be invoked under rights of way or access legislation. Any further steps to prohibit access in connection with this outbreak will be described on the Defra website and communicated to the local authorities affected.

The three categories of access that may be affected are: public rights of way, open access land (for both of which local authorities would be responsible) and permissive access established under local management agreements or arrangements. Access/ highway authorities, including National Park Authorities, would need to assess the need for public information and on-ground signage, which should be in a standard form, as advised by Defra. Natural England will show closures of open access land on its website where such closures have been notified to it.

link Livestock Can Now Move DIrect to Slaughter
link British Pig Meat Supplies Re-start
link Movement to Slaughter Welcomed by EBLEX

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