Thursday, 27 February 2014

A Loophole In The Minimum Value Legislation

The blog post below and the main live export page are being amended as we have been able to confirm that there is a legal loophole in the Minimum Value Legislation.  It's been quite an interesting day talking to people from AHVLA equine exports, The Northern Ireland department covering imports and exports, as well as the equivalent department in Southern Ireland.

Even though it is illegal to take a Hill pony directly from Dartmoor to Ireland (via a Welsh port for instance) without proving it's minimum value or needing an export licence etc, it is perfectly legal to travel the same pony from Dartmoor (via a UK ferry port such as Stranraer) to Northern Ireland - a journey for which there are no requirements for minimum values, health certificates or export licenses.  As Northern Ireland does not have minimum value legislation, from there the pony can be travelled straight down over the border into Southern Ireland...and beyond to Europe if someone wanted to.  This completely avoids the purpose and protection intended by the minimum value legislation.  Of course, transport regulations and equine passports would still be legally required.

As soon as an equine enters Northern Ireland, the authorities there and in Southern Ireland say that the Tripartite Agreement allows the free movement of equines anywhere within the EU.  The interesting thing is that when we have spoken to the authorities in the UK, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland and pointed out that the Tripartite Agreement doesn't apply to horses going for slaughter and so what documentation is required to transport those equines...the response from all 3 individual countries has been that no horses have been exported for slaughter because none of the health certificates have been applied for!

The slightly good news is that the contact I spoke to in Northern Ireland said that at their ports they haven't seen any more lorries travelling wild ponies from the UK since the horse meat scandal was exposed.  We haven't seen any dealers buying at markets and the ponies are no longer turning up in Southern Ireland for the moment the trade has stopped.  The questions closely were our wild ponies tied into the horse meat scandal story...and could the minimum value legislation be extended to close the loophole to Northern Ireland to make sure that legislation truly does protect ponies from being exploited in the way they have been.

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