Consortium challenges livestock ban

Roger Pearson looks ahead

A High Court test case is now pending over the rights of port and airport owning local authority to interfere in livestock exports from the UK to Europe.

The case centres on a challenge by a consortium of farmers and animal dealers, CC Freight, and an air transport company, Phoenix Aviation, to moves by Coventry City Council to suspend livestock flights from the city airport to Europe.

Pending the full hearing the High Court has ordered that Phoenix should be allowed to continue the flights.

Mr Justice Tucker has given leave for CC and Phoenix to seek judicial review of the council's stance and he has ruled that the hearing should be expedited.

CC and Phoenix claims that the Labour-controlled council which owns the Coventry airport has been pressured by animal rights extremists into banning the flights.

Coventry City Council is accused of acting unlawfully and unreasonably in suspending the flights of cargoes of veal calves. The council denies that it has taken a final decision on the matter.

At the application for leave the judge was told by Sir Christopher Prout QC, for CC Freight and Phoenix, that farmers desperately need to export livestock. However, their ability to do so has been hit by the refusal of ferry companies to carry live animals.

Prout said if their ability to ship animals was lost they would face the loss of long established markets in Europe.

An agreement is said to have been reached with airport management in respect of three flights, each carrying 190 animals a day to Holland, Belgium and France.

For the council, Stuart Isaacs said a decision had not been taken over whether to allow such flights.

The final ruling could have widespread implications. It is expected to result in new legal guidelines on the rights of port and airport-owning local authorities generally to intervene in such cases on the basis of the nature of cargoes that are being carried.