Westmorland Gazette


Over the Gate - Problem that can't be buried

By Jeff Swift

As it said on the Country File programme, you know, the one that can't make up its mind whether to be a holiday one or what, that a new EU regulation, yes yet another, comes in on the May 1. Won't that be exciting, I don't think.

For as long as there have been farmers, and that is a long time, they have buried dead stock on the farm without, as far as I know, any adverse effects. Now our lords and masters in Brussels have decreed that we can no longer bury carcasses. Now, while we could manage very well without yon lot in Brussels, we can not manage without a satisfactory system for carcass disposal and there is no such satisfactory system in being for May 1.

The reason given for bringing in this absurd regulation is that they claim burial has environmental and health risks due to pollution getting into rivers. If procedures need to be put into place in order to combat so called environment and health risks then the measures should be paid for by the Government as, I understand, is the case in other EU countries. But then, other nations give their agriculture and fishing industries high priority...

To install an on farm incinerator costs in the region of £10,000 plus running costs to do a job you did with a spade or a digger and then you have to pay for the ash to be transported to a licenced site to be dealt with at a further cost, of course. The present knacker industry could not hope to cope and farmers are not allowed to band together and co-operate with somebody having an incinerator on their farm and others bringing carcasses to it for fear of spreading disease. No pun intended, but when this regulation comes into force in May you can be sure it will be mayhem.

My friend who reminded me about the February 9 Country File programme told me that when he was in the RAF they had to undergo survival training and the most important need they would have to satisfy was the need for water. They were taught where and how to dig for it and they learned that the deeper they went the better the water. Furthermore, their instructors always claimed that soil was the very best filter.

If, before the vote was taken, some of the Brussels bureaucrats were taken up into the high fells and left to carry a dead sheep down to a road where it might be collected, I'll bet the poorly thought out regulation would have been voted out.

The structure of the United Kingdom sheep industry is unique. Nowhere else in Europe do they have a structure like ours where the hills and mountains are a reservoir of both breeding stocks and feeding stock for the lowlands. Anything that is likely to prove a great problem for the British sheep industry such as double-tagging and no burying will be supported by countries like France and Ireland who would dearly love our sheep meat market.

Dialect word: Snod meaning smooth or neat.

Thought for the day: In some circles common sense has become as elusive as a wet fish.