TEN YEARS ON: Devon held public inquiry

Lessons were learned.

LESSONS were learned following the crisis, which crippled the rural economy, and Devon led the way.

When the government shied away from holding a public inquiry, Devon County Council held its own.

There was public outrage when DEFRA declined an invitation to send a representative to the hearing.

The inquiry was chaired by Professor Ian Mercer and its findings were later adopted by the government in a national contingency plan.

The plan itself was a key recommendation to come out of the inquiry.

Of the 360 submissions made to the inquiry, 28 per cent of them were from farmers.

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It was established that foot and mouth disease entered Devon via sheep bought from a dealer in Cumbria, the worst affected county.

The spread of the disease had been aided by the transportation of livestock.

The inquiry recommended that import controls be tightened to the highest international standards and that there should be an immediate ban on livestock movements from day one of an outbreak.

It also proposed that regulations should be introduced to register all transactions involving livestock.

A study was recommended - to find out if it was feasible to re-establish small, local abattoirs.

More training in slaughter management was called for.