SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has hailed a last minute decision in Brussels to delay implementation of the controversial Electronic Identification of Sheep rules for the historic flock until the end of 2014.
The rules had been due to come into force in just three weeks’ time, at Hogmanay, but have now been postponed to a point whereby the vast majority of the sheep likely to be affected will have been culled out in any case.
The decision, by a narrow majority, was taken at a meeting of the Standing Committee on Food and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) in Brussels, and represents a major victory in the battle to make the EID rules as workable as possible.
Mr Smith hailed the decision as proof that the intense lobbying by the Scottish government and others has paid off, and committed himself to find more parts of the legislation to chip away.
The MEP said:
“Finally, a bit of good news on EID! This has been a long time coming, but is an eminently sensible decision, not least because it will by virtue of the long lead in time mean that the sheep likely to be effected by the regulations will by that point have been taken out of the flock.
“Hats off to Richard Lochhead, and to be fair Jim Paice in DEFRA, who have lobbied hard on this. We have I hope done our bit in the Parliament, tabling Written Declarations, Parliamentary Questions, summoning the Commissioner to give evidence and all manner of tactics, but this does prove my point that member states are very much in charge.
“While we await some of the detail, it does seem clear that this will be good news for Scotland’s sheep sector, and I’m delighted that we got a result, even if at the last minute.”