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Avian Influenza: Disease Control

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 38744, tabled on 18 July 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to reduce the bureaucracy and restrictions imposed on farms that are subject to avian flu controls.

Answered on

26 July 2022

Defra’s objective in tackling any outbreak of avian influenza is to eradicate the disease as quickly as possible from the UK poultry and captive-bird population and regain UK World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) disease-free status. Defra’s approach is set out in the Notifiable Avian Disease Control Strategy for Great Britain (www.gov.uk/government/publications/notifiable-avian-disease-control-strategy). Current policy is in line with international standards of best practice for disease control. It reflects our experience of responding to past outbreaks of exotic animal disease. Our approach aims to reduce adverse impacts on the rural and wider economy, the public, rural communities and the environment, whilst protecting public health and minimising the overall cost of any outbreak.

We recognise the significant impact the current avian influenza is having on bird keepers. In particular, the scale of the current avian influenza outbreak has led to large numbers of poultry and other captive birds being subject to movement restrictions as a result of being located within disease control zones surrounding infected premises. During the current outbreak, Government has been able to reduce the administrative burden on keepers associated with applying for movement licenses from disease control zones through the launch of an online Avian Influenza Licensing Service. (https://apply-for-an-outbreak-licence.defra.gov.uk/)

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) are leading on a cross-government, cross-agency review of lessons from the recent outbreak with the aim of identifying what went well and areas where further improvements can be made. This will include identifying areas where administrative burdens on keepers could potentially be eased if they do not impact the effectiveness of disease control measures.