RECOMMENDATIONS put forward following an independent review of the UK's bird quarantine system have been largely accepted by the Government in a bid to stop the spread of the potentially deadly Avian Influenza virus.
The review - chaired by Nigel Dimmock, professor of virology at Warwick University - was established last October following the discovery of a bird suffering from Avian Flu at a quarantine facility in Essex.
New measures aim to protect Britain's birds
Ministers have accepted 29 of professor Dimmock's 32 recommendations, with the aim of increasing bio-security measures and preventing bird flu from entering the UK through imported birds. There is currently an EU wide ban on the importing of captive birds from countries outside Europe.
Whilst Ministers are still considering a further two recommendations, they rejected as disproportionate the suggestion that the owners of pet birds should place them in commercial quarantine facilities.
Ben Bradshaw, minister for animal health and welfare, said:
"Professor Dimmock's report was thorough and wide-ranging. It provided us with a challenge - we have now reviewed our procedures and we have presented a response which we think is workable and proportionate.
"I'm sure tightening the system where it is required will reassure the public that our quarantine system would be able to work effectively if imports resume."
Professor Dimmock's review considered, among other aspects, the authorisation of premises for holding birds in quarantine and transit, procedures on importation of birds, the operation of quarantine premises including biosecurity measures and relevant domestic and European legislation.
Based on Professor Dimmock's recommendations, Defra will now:
- Set up closer supervision of quarantine facilities by the State Veterinary Service (SVS)
- Create a central veterinary IT system of key data linked to quarantine
- Revise guidance for the structure and equipment of quarantine facilities
- Introduce management plans for quarantine operators
- Write a bird welfare code for importers and quarantine operators
- Enhance laboratory testing of quarantined birds
The Government's full response to the Dimmock report is available on the Defra website