We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

FMD Review (Scotland) 2007

Listen

Chapter 1
Introduction

INTRODUCTION

1.1 The series of foot and mouth disease ( FMD) outbreaks in Surrey during 2007 had a major impact on the Scottish livestock industry and throughout the food supply chain for animal products. As Great Britain ( GB) is considered to be one epidemiological unit the consequences of the cases in Surrey were far reaching in terms of exports, movement controls and the internal trade of a wide range of products. The outbreaks and subsequent control measures occurred at the worst time of year for Scottish Agriculture with the major cattle and sheep movements, sales and exports of light lamb normally occurring during the autumn. There was also an impact on the pig industry especially with the disposal of cull sows.

1.2 The imposition of a GB-wide national movement ban immediately on confirmation of an FMD outbreak anywhere in the country is a policy endorsed following the 2001 epidemic. The impact of outbreaks around 500 kilometres from the Scottish border could be perceived as being disproportionate to the problem. Consequently this review was commissioned to consider the handling of the outbreak in Scotland and to identify whether the impact of future outbreaks of FMD could be minimised. If an FMD outbreak occurred in Scotland remote from the south of England a similar situation would exist in terms of implementing proportionate controls. It is important to develop a GB-wide consensus on ways to minimise disruption to whatever part of the country is remote from the focus of the outbreak whilst at the same time ensuring the disease is not allowed to spread.

1.3 The report is primarily aimed at informing the Scottish Government but is also relevant for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ( Defra) and the Scottish stakeholder organisations. It is the intention that this review will provide stakeholders with a better understanding of the rationale for the decisions taken during the outbreak. This in turn should assist stakeholder meetings to develop a carefully considered position which will allow for more effective decision making in the event of having to respond to a future outbreak of FMD.

TERMS OF REFERENCE

1.4. To review the Scottish response to the recent FMD outbreak and to identify lessons for the future, particularly in terms of reducing the risk to Scotland and the associated economic disruption.

In particular the review should consider:

  • Current contingency planning arrangements where they are appropriate and relevant. It should consider the international, national, local and industry perspectives;
  • The development of the disease handling strategy and lessons to be learned from the implementation and relaxation of the movement ban;
  • Co-ordination of implementation action within delivery partners such as the Animal Health agency, Meat Hygiene Service ( MHS) and the local authorities ( LAs);
  • Liaison and communications with other United Kingdom ( UK) Governments, including the development of appropriate GB/ UK policy and international negotiation positions;
  • Communication with stakeholders;
  • Use of scientific and veterinary expertise;
  • How to minimise the disruption to Scotland of a remote disease outbreak within GB and whether regionalisation is a viable option.

STRUCTURE OF THE REPORT

1.5 This is a comprehensive report covering a wide field as specified in the terms of reference. The prime objective is to identify the lessons learned and to make recommendations to minimise future disruption. In order to do this the report is structured around nine chapters. The first two chapters provide an introduction and information on the Scottish industry and trade patterns. This is important in providing background information which will assist in identifying potential risks to Scotland and appropriate measures to reduce the impact of an FMD outbreak. Each of the seven remaining chapters deals with a specific issue linked to the terms of reference and is headed by a section detailing the key findings of the review.

METHODOLOGY

1.6 The review began with analysis of information, papers and reports available from the Scottish Government from the time of first suspicion of FMD in Surrey until the restrictions were finally lifted. Stakeholders were consulted on the terms of reference which once agreed were widely published both on the Scottish Government website and issued to the media. Written submissions were received from a number of organisations.

1.7 The initial stage involved interviews with officials in the Scottish Government, Defra and the UK and Scotland Representations in Brussels during November and December 2007. Every effort was then made to meet with organisations representing the different sections of the industry recognising that the impact of FMD was throughout the whole of the food supply chain from producer through to the retailer and consumer. Interviews were held with a wide range of stakeholders in January and February 2008. These began with a review of the organisation concerned and its role in the outbreak. This was followed by a discussion on each term of reference in turn. A questionnaire was developed and used as a guideline for the interviews. The interviews were completed with an overview of what went well, and what could be improved on along with the key recommendations each organisation wanted to see in the report.

1.8 Details of the oral and written evidence received in the course of the review are provided at Appendix 1. During the interviews stakeholders made valuable comments and suggestions quite specific to their particular areas of expertise which they felt would help to increase preparedness and minimise any future disease related disruption. It has not been possible to discuss all these in detail in this report but they are listed in Appendix 2 for information.

1.9 In order to explore specific issues in depth, background papers and reviews were commissioned by the Scottish Government from a number of different sources. These were intended to provide detailed information and reports on:

  • the Scottish livestock industry and trade patterns;
  • the risks to Scotland of animal movements;
  • the fitness of Scotland's current FMD Contingency Plan;
  • the economic impact in Scotland.

Where appropriate information derived from these reports is included in this review. Each of the externally commissioned reports will be published separately.

FMD OUTBREAK 2007

1.10 The complexity and rapidly developing nature of FMD outbreaks demands that the risk of disease spread is balanced against the very real consequences and costs of control measures. Much has been written about the 2007 outbreak and this short summary provides some detail of the timelines and major events. FMD was confirmed in Surrey on 3 rd August 2007 with a second case confirmed on 6 th August. A national movement ban was imposed in Scotland on 3 rd August and lifted on 24 th August when, apart from a 20 day standstill on movements and the suspension of the separation agreements, everything including exports to European Union ( EU) countries returned to normality.

1.11 A further outbreak was confirmed on 12 th September and a national movement ban was re-introduced although this omitted Scottish Islands on a risk assessment basis. The EU export ban was also re-introduced and included the whole of Scotland. During the second phase of disease movements to slaughter were permitted immediately under licence. A further five cases were confirmed during this phase with the last case recorded on 30 th September. Details of the eight outbreaks are contained in Appendix 3. All cases were in Surrey.

1.12 From 25 th September there was a progressive lifting of movement restrictions throughout GB based on the creation by the UK authorities of FMD risk and low risk areas, the latter including Scotland. The European Commission (the Commission) began to progressively relax the export ban for different parts of GB but with strict controls. All EU export restrictions were finally removed by 31 st December 2007. The UK regained its FMD freedom without vaccination from the World Organisation for Animal Health ( OIE) on 22 nd February 2008.

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT

1.13 It is not the intention of this review to enter into a debate about terminology but clarification is required on the use of the terms Scottish Executive and Scottish Government. The administration in Scotland was established as the "Scottish Executive" in 1999 by the Scotland Act of 1998. Neither the Scottish Executive nor the Scottish Parliament is able to change the legal name, as this would require an amendment to the Scotland Act which can only be passed by Westminster. The administration's legal name remains the Scottish Executive and this will continue to appear on legislation in the Parliament in Edinburgh.

1.14 Following the elections in May 2007 the current administration announced on 2 nd September 2007 that the Scottish Executive was to be re-branded as the Scottish Government. The new name was to be used on all documents, letters, publicity material and signs outside government buildings. The move came after research suggested the term "executive" was meaningless to many people. For the purposes of this report reference will be made to "Scottish Government" as the executive arm of the Scottish Parliament. When referring to matters such as the Concordats and Service Level Agreements ( SLA) the legal term "Scottish Executive" will be used.

1.15 Within the Scottish Government there are six Cabinet Secretaries (Cabinet Ministers) including the First Minister and ten ministers who report to a Cabinet Secretary. The administration has six Cabinet Secretary Portfolios one of which is the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment who has responsibility for Animal Health and Welfare ( AHW).

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

1.16 We would like to take this opportunity to thank those organisations and individuals who made time to discuss the situation and who provided considerable input to explain their positions and concerns. There was a positive input from all concerned with an acceptance that the outbreak had been well handled in Scotland but that there is still room for improvement. We are grateful to officials in Defra and the Scottish Government for their positive input and openness in providing details of the events which occurred throughout the period from initial suspicion of disease through to the final lifting of restrictions.