A draft interim contingency plan for the operational response to any future outbreak of foot and mouth disease is being made available for discussion, Animal Health Minister Elliot Morley said yesterday [Tuesday].

The draft was discussed by a group of stakeholder organisations today and is being made available on the website of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Morley said: "This is very much work in progress and brings together procedures which have been in place on the ground for some time.

"The recent outbreak was unprecendented in its scale and we clearly need to update the plans that were in place on February 20  last year to take account of those experiences.

"The outcome of the two inquiries into the FMD outbreak that are under way, the Lessons Learned Inquiry and the Royal Society rebview of infectious diseases of livestock, will clearly be essential in preparing our response to any future outbreak. But we obviously need to be able to respond rapidly between now and the outcome of the inquiry process."