Today's announcement that animals caught up in foot and mouth infected areas can be moved to abattoirs outside the 10k surveillance zone under licence is extremely welcome news, says the NFU.

NFU President Ben Gill welcomed the acknowledgement by Margaret Beckett in her first statement to the House as Secretary of State for DEFRA of the case put by the NFU for changes to the movement restrictions.

He said: "We are grateful that DEFRA has acknowledged the need to ensure facilities mirror the industry's needs as the number of infected areas shrink."

But he used the opportunity to re-emphasise the need for everyone - from ministry officials to farmers and the public - to observe the very necessary risk prevention measures still in place.

"Tempting as it is to believe we are beginning to get the disease on the run, none of us can allow ourself to fall victim to complacency."

He added: "We have been calling for a full investigation into how this happened and what lessons can be learned and we welcome the Secretary of State's confirmation of her intention to hold an inquiry.

"We share farmers concerns that there must be an inquiry once the disease has been eradicated but when this happens it must be speedy and any findings revealed as soon as possible."

Today's announcement also allows for the movement, under licence, of pigs and cattle from At Risk Areas to Provisionally Free Areas (PFA) and between one PFA and another.

These movements will only be approved where the welfare of animals is a concern and additional conditions will apply.

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Updated: October 2005.