The NFU has called on all local authorities to close off rural footpaths and rights of way to stop the spread of foot and mouth disease under emergency powers granted by the Government today

The order, laid in Parliament this afternoon, gives local authorities legal powers to suspend rights of way where there is a risk of the public inadvertently spreading the disease.

NFU regional offices were this afternoon making contact with every rural local authority in their area to ask them to make use of the powers.

NFU President Ben Gill said: “It is imperative that every local council which has rural footpaths and rights of way within its boundaries closes them immediately. There must be a blanket ban across the country.

“This could be crucial in helping us to stamp out this highly virulent disease. With new outbreaks being confirmed all the time, we are sure every responsible member of the public will support us.

“Remember the disease could be anywhere – not just in the restricted zones. I implore everyone once again: please, please stay away from the countryside.”

Mr Gill raised this issue yesterday at meetings with both the Agriculture Minister Nick Brown and the Prime Minister yesterday.

The foot and mouth virus can be carried on people’s clothes, shoes and vehicles, although it has no human health implications.

Notes to editors:
Due to the infectious nature of foot and mouth the NFU is urging all journalists to stay away from farms and rural areas.

Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this document, the NFU cannot accept liability for errors and omissions.  This information should not be regarded as constituting legal advice, and should therefore not be relied upon as such.  NFU©