To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions his Department has had with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland in the last two weeks on tackling the spread of bird flu in the UK.
9 December 2020
Animal health and welfare policy and responding to outbreaks is a devolved matter. I outline below information about control of the disease in England. I also set out how all four administrations in the UK work with one another in order to develop a response which supports the areas of common interest.
My department, and the departments of all administrations in the UK, have well-established, strong track records of controlling and eliminating outbreaks of Avian Influenza. Our aim is to limit the spread and the economic impact of this disease on the industry, governments and other bird keepers.
Defra's approach to disease control is set out in the Notifiable Avian Disease Control Strategy for Great Britain and in the Contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases of animals in England. Once disease has been confirmed, susceptible birds are humanely culled and disease control zones put in place around the infected premises to further reduce the risk of spread. Movement of poultry and captive birds are not allowed in the zones and movements of eggs, poultry carcases and poultry litter and manure are subject to restrictions.
Veterinary investigations are carried out at each infected premises, including the tracing of all movements on and off, and surveillance within the disease control zones.
Avian Influenza Prevention Zones (AIPZ) were put in place in England, Scotland and Wales on 11 November 2020. These require all bird keepers to take extra biosecurity precautions such as limiting access to non-essential people on their sites, workers changing clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures, cleaning and disinfecting site vehicles regularly and fencing off ponds and standing water. Similarly, an AIPZ was declared in Northern Ireland on 1 December 2020.
In addition, given the increasing risk of incursion of avian influenza to captive birds, from the 14 December 2020 new housing measures will come into force in England for all poultry and captive birds. I refer the hon. Member to my statement of 8 December 2020:
Although disease control is a devolved matter colleagues in all administrations are an integral part of the UK-wide decision-making processes. All attend the Defra Group's National Disease Control Centre 'bird table' meetings, are members of the Animal Disease Policy Group and participate in daily stocktakes to review on-going disease control strategy.
I have no plans to amend Defra's responsibilities for compensation for affected keepers.