NI Improve Biosecurity Measures At Ports

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - The Northern Irish Department of Agriculture has launched a new initiative to improve disease prevention measures at local ports.
calendar icon 13 June 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

The measures involve the provision by DARD’s Veterinary Service of automatic Vehicle Disinfection Units (VDUs) at the ports of Larne, Belfast and Warrenpoint. These units will be activated during an outbreak of epizootic animal disease such as Foot and Mouth Disease in Britain and will be used for disinfecting traffic exiting the ferries. They were designed and installed in-house by DARD’s Rivers Agency.

The new installations, which are based on a design used at ports in the south, replace equipment put in place during the outbreak of FMD in 2001 but which has now reached the end of its useful life. Three new units have been installed in Belfast, two in Larne and one in Warrenpoint. The units are strategically placed to ensure that all traffic exiting the ferries must pass through them before leaving the port.

Speaking at the launch in the port of Belfast, Minister MIchelle O'Neill explained: "The purpose of disinfection measures is to kill off any virus that might be carried on vehicular traffic and thereby help prevent the disease entering the North of Ireland. Whilst the threat from disease is currently low, the world today is a much smaller place and we have traffic coming through our ports from all over the world. Neither I nor my Department can afford to be complacent and we must therefore be prepared to meet that threat if and when it becomes a reality.

"The cost to the public purse here of the 2001 outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease was £24million with an additional £5.3million indirect costs to the food chain. Statistics indicate that we have had a major incursion of disease locally every 7 to 10 years and my predecessor Michelle Gildernew fought several animal disease scares ranging from FMD to Bluetongue. I am determined to continue her Fortress Ireland approach to ensure that I do all I can to protect both our industry and economy.”

She said: “The development and launch of this new initiative at our ports is very good news for both the industry and travellers at the ports. It provides a new swifter system for disinfecting vehicles and is a great success story in terms of utilising existing in-house expertise, which will allow the savings made to be used elsewhere during the current tough economic conditions.

“However, we must not be complacent and although today’s new equipment installation will be a significant step forward to help us keep disease out at local ports, we must always remain vigilant against the threat from epizootic disease.”

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