Protestors fear an increase in animal exports
PUBLISHED: 17:20 22 July 2011
Protesters a fearing an increase in the number of live animals exported through the port of Ramsgate as they call for berthing fees to be increased.
"If the word gets out then people using other ports will come here and Ramsgate will become the capital for this horrible trade..."
The Animal rights activists want Thanet District Council (TDC) to follow the example of Portsmouth council and increase the berthing fees for the animal exporters, after the local authority on the Solent has successfully priced them out of the market.
The charges of £5,000 per lorry were introduced after the local authority claimed it was needed to fund the additional security to control and monitor the growing number of protesters outside the docks.
However, while Portsmouth has proven to be an inspiration to the protesters, they now fear that the exporters who previously used the south coast port, will now come to Ramsgate.
Councillor Ian Driver, who is the creator of the Thanet Against Live Animal Exports group, said: “There is a very big possibility that exporters could come to Ramsgate.
“There is a big difference between the £5,000 that Portsmouth charge and the £730 pet time here.
“The council really urgently needs to review the fees and surcharges.
“If the word gets out then people using other ports will come here and Ramsgate will become the capital for this horrible trade and we will be stuck in a downward spiral.”
Cllr Driver and other protesters hope that an increase in fees will be legal, claiming that the additional charges are needed to cover the higher security fees.
Cllr Driver added: “With every shipment there are more protesters and this leads to increased costs which have to paid for from somewhere.
“I’m suggesting that the council pass on these charges to the people behind the trade rather than charging the tax payer.
“I have asked Ramsgate port boss Mark Seed to contact Portsmouth Council to find out how they were able to introduce a surcharge, because it seems to me that Ramsgate will have to follow suit.”
An increase to the berthing fees is being looked at by TDC and a spokesman said: “The council is looking closely at the fees that it charges for live animal exports, but we have to be very careful to ensure that the council is not taken to court for anti-competitive behaviour.”
The council have also dismissed protesters worries over an increase in trade through the port, claiming that the routes offered from Portsmouth and Ramsgate are different, with the Thanet port offering a service to Belgium, while from the south coast, ships sail to western France and Spain.