A NEW ban on exporting live animals came into law this week as the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Act received Royal Assent.

The legislation delivers on a manifesto commitment to ban the export of live animals including cattle, sheep, and pigs for slaughter and fattening from Great Britain.

However, live exports in other specific circumstances, for example, for breeding and competitions, will still be allowed.

This is provided animals are transported in line with legal requirements aimed at protecting their welfare.

Government data shows up to 40 million farm animals, including sheep, calves and pigs, have been exported from Britain for further rearing or slaughter since the 1960s.

READ MORE | UK set to ban livestock exports after bill is passed

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said: “We are proud to have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world.

“Our new Act makes use of post-Brexit freedoms to deliver one of our manifesto commitments and strengthen these standards even further by preventing the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening, which we know causes animals unnecessary stress and injury.”

The RSPCA has campaigned for the ban for years. Its chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “After more than 50 years of campaigning, we are absolutely thrilled to see that live export of animals has been banned from Great Britain. This means British animals will no longer be sent on gruelling journeys abroad for further fattening and slaughter in cramped and poor conditions with little or no access to food or water.

“As one of the first countries in the world to abolish this practice, this vital step for animal welfare sends an important message globally and we hope to see other countries follow suit soon.

“As we mark our 200th anniversary as a charity and look to the future of animal welfare, it’s great to see this outdated practice is finally consigned to the past. This ban marks a huge step forward for animal welfare and further shows that we are a nation of animal lovers - who care for every kind.

We’d like to say thank you to all our supporters, all those who have campaigned on this issue, and to the UK Government for making this milestone moment for animals happen.”

The passing of the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports Bill) means:

  • Ensuring animals are slaughtered domestically, in high welfare UK slaughterhouses;
  • Taking advantage of Brexit freedoms which mean the UK can ban live animal exports, which was prevented under EU rules;
  • New rules would still allow live animal exports in other circumstances, e.g, for breeding and competitions, provided they are transported in line with legal requirements aimed at protecting their welfare.

The Bill would make it an offence to either attempt to or succeed in sending, transporting or organising the transport of relevant animals to be slaughtered from or through Great Britain.

However, the bill does not apply to Northern Ireland and the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol mean that live animals move freely between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.