Foot-and-mouth 174,660 carcasses lie across Devon
 BY SIMON DE BRUXELLES,,2-117964,00.html

THE Ministry of Agriculture was accused of causing a public potential health crisis after it was revealed that of 174,660 carcasses in Devon, thousands are to remain unburied for a further two weeks.
Officials said yesterday that the mass burial site at Ash Moor, near Meeth, North Devon, will not be ready for at least 14 days, leaving nowhere to dispose of the 174,660 dead animals now lying around fields and farmyards in Devon.
The Government has boasted of having overcome the disposal problem in Cumbria but in Devon it is growing daily and farmers’ leaders say that the situation is critical and out of control. In the past three days alone 53,946 animals have been culled but only 13,611 disposed of through rendering or fires.
This means the backlog is growing by an average of 13,445 a day and is likely to continue doing so until the mass burial site is ready in two weeks’ time.
Many of the carcasses have been lying in fields for well over a week and are already in the advanced stages of decomposition. The stench of rotting animals hangs over a huge area of North Devon.
The National Farmers Union regional director Anthony Gibson said that the Government must overrule the Environment Agency and order the burial of carcasses on farms to solve the crisis. He said: “What is going on at the moment is a scandal. It is disgusting and disgraceful. I have driven through the area and the stench of rotting flesh was overpowering and utterly revolting.
“Large parts of Devon are becoming uninhabitable and there must be a risk to public health with so many rotting carcasses lying around. Unless something is done soon there will be a great deal of public unrest.One farmer who had 2,000 sheep killed at Umberleigh offered to have a burn on his land to get rid of them but has not heard back from the ministry.
MAFF’s director of operations in Devon, Andy Lebrecht, reacted angrily to suggestions that by the time the specially constructed burial site at Ash Moor is opened most of the carcasses will be too decomposed to be moved there. He said: “If you have a better suggestion I would like to hear it. We are pursuing other means but we want to bury a large proportion of the carcasses. We will continue slaughtering as long as there are further infections and contiguous premises.
“We are looking at the option to taking carcasses off farms and storing them centrally but we have not got things firmed up. We want to dispose of carcasses by all methods available .”
Mr Lebrecht said he hoped the mass burn site at South Arscott, near Holsworthy, would ease the problem when the wind direction allows the first of two fires to be lit. Each will consume about 14,000 carcasses.