Bluetongue spreads further across Kent

A new case of the midge-borne bluetongue disease has been found on a farm at Sevenoaks in Kent today, Defra officials have confirmed.

By MICHAEL POLLITT

Rural affairs editor

A new case of the midge-borne bluetongue disease has been found on a farm at Sevenoaks in Kent yesterday, Defra officials have confirmed.

The existing bluetongue control zone, which covers most of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex will be merged to form a single zone stretching down the coast into Kent and East Sussex.

As a result the protection zone, which must be a mininum of 150km or 93 miles from the nearest confirmed bluetongue disease case, now extends across virtually the whole of lowland England from the East Riding of Yorkshire to Cheshire, the border with Wales and down to the Dorset coast including the Isle of Wight.

Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers' Union, said: “For those farmers in the area south of the Thames, there is now more flexibility for transporting animals to and from the East Anglia control zone.”

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“There's a big debate going on in the country about how far the control zones should be moved. But the industry has still got everything crossed that this disease won't spread any further.

“It's causing real concern because no farmers are able to plan for the rest of the year and beyond.”

There have been a total of 52 confirmed cases of bluetongue since September 22, although most were concentrated in south Suffolk, near Ipswich, a number of other cases were subsequently found at Lowestoft, and also Essex and Kent.

The existing control zone, the 20km radius, around Peterborough remains in place.

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