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Written Statement - Food Standards Agency Board decision on post-Chernobyl sheep movement restrictions

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Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Health and Social Services

Assembly Members will wish to be aware the Board of the Food Standards Agency agreed on 20th March to the lifting of monitoring controls on sheep introduced in 1986 as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

Out of the 9,800 UK holdings, and more than 4 million sheep, originally placed under restriction following the accident in 1986, there are only 327 farms in North Wales and 8 farms in Cumbria, England still remaining under some form of restriction. All Mark and Release controls were lifted in Northern Ireland in 2000 and in Scotland in 2010.

A review carried out by the FSA has assessed whether these protective measures are still required to maintain food safety. The conclusion of this work undertaken through 2011 was that the current controls are no longer proportionate to the very low risk and removing the existing controls would not compromise consumer safety.

Following a 12 week consultation with key stakeholders including consumers, affected farmers, farming unions and trade bodies, the Board has agreed to the FSA issuing Consents, which will have the practical impact of lifting controls. This will permit all farms remaining under restriction to move sheep without the need for monitoring from 1 June 2012.  

The FSA will also recommend to Ministers in Wales, Westminster, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the revocation of the remaining Orders under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 (known as FEPA Orders) which currently restrict the movement of sheep in designated areas of the UK. This will remove the legislation made redundant by the issuing of Consents.