The Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Atkins, MEP for the North West, visited Great Orton Airfield recently, in the company of Cumbria Country Councillor Duncan Fairbairn, to see for himself the remedial development and landscaping being implemented over the livestock burial pits.

At an open trench at Great Orton Airfield (+ Cty/Cllr. Duncan Fairbairn)

"This is the graveyard for nearly  million cattle and sheep and represents the tragic loss of the livelihoods of many hundreds of Cumbrian farmers," he commented. "I am glad to hear of local hopes that this site should in time, become an environmental park or Site of Special Scientific Interest for generations to come."

Sir Robert also met local farmers over a pint in the Oldfellows Arms at Caldbeck and told them of the Special Committee of Inquiry set up by the European Parliament to investigate the FMD epidemic throughout Europe in general and Britain in particular.

"Tory MEPs assembled a majority to vote for this Committee" he said "in the face of fierce opposition from Labour MEPs. Tony Blair won't have a proper Public Inquiry so we have set it up for him. That way we can learn from the Government's appalling mismanagement of the crisis and avoid those mistakes in any future outbreak."

With some local farmers in "Oddfellows", Caldbeck

It is expected that the EP Committee will pay a special visit to Cumbria in coming weeks to take representations from those affected by the FMD outbreak.

The NW MEP went to visit other nearby farmers and heard from them their anger at the DEFRA's attitude during the disease outbreak and the complete lack of direction for the future of their industry. "Cumbrian farmers are totally unimpressed by this Government," he reported, "and want real evidence of commitment and support for British agriculture."

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