Farmer takes government to court

Thousands of animals were cremated at the farm

A West Midlands farmer is taking the government to court over claims it
breached its own regulations on the disposal of carcasses during the foot
and mouth epidemic.
Robin Feakins' property, Sparum Farm in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, was
chosen as a site to incinerate 5,000 cattle and 6,000 sheep which had been

But Mr Feakins says the ashes from the carcasses were only buried six inches
deep instead of the regulation three feet.

He also says that, without his knowledge, an unknown number of cattle which
were burned or attempted to be burned were born before August 1996 and
therefore potential carriers of the disease Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

BSE concern

In 1988 concern was raised that BSE, the result of using recycling animal
protein in animal feed, could be linked to the fatal brain condition
Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD) in humans.

A ban on the use of meat and bone meal feed was brought in along with a
slaughter policy for all affected cattle.

The link between BSE and CJD was firmly established and the European Union
banned all exports of British beef.

The government also announced tighter BSE controls and a 30-month slaughter
scheme was introduced in an effort to ensure that all cows over the age of
30 months at the time of slaughter did not enter the human food or animal
feed chain.

Livelihood loss

In a written submission before the court, Mr Feakins says his land was left
blighted and his livelihood threatened.

He has since abandoned his property and moved his family to a farm in
Scotland over fears they could pick up BSE.

If successful, the action could force the government to treat the cremation
site, which Mr Feakins estimates could cost more than #2m.

Mr Feakins is also seeking compensation for the loss of his livelihood.