HC Deb 18 March 1997 vol 292 cc563-4W
Mr. Morley

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the relative risk of rabies infection entering Britain from(a) free-living animals entering via the channel tunnel and (b) animals entering by other means; and whether he has commissioned a risk assessment. [20711]

Mrs. Browning

Measures are in place to prevent rabies infection entering Great Britain either from(a) animals entering the channel tunnel or (b) animals entering by other means.

(A) The controls in place to prevent animals from entering the channel tunnel include fencing, video recording, routine surveillance by service personnel, deterrent lighting, and routine baiting for small animals.

Electrified grids have been installed in each of the tunnels as an additional deterrence to animals. However, due to technical difficulties, these are not currently operational. I met the chairman of Eurotunnel this morning to discuss this. He assured me that Eurotunnel is working urgently on devising a technical solution capable of being implemented very rapidly.

The environment in the channel tunnel is extremely hostile and would not sustain any animal life because of the train movement—the air vortex created by a train in the tunnel is likely to kill any animal the size of a dog or fox—and because of arrangements designed to ensure that the tunnel is not a source of food.

(B) The legislation on rabies quarantine is in place to prevent rabies infection entering by other means.