From the Revd R. H.
Sir, - My eye was caught by
a throwaway remark quoted in your report on the rural-issues debate
in the Governing Body of the Church in Wales (Welsh Governing Body,
As a one-time sheep farmer,
more recently occupied as a minister working with both Church of
England and Methodist churches in mainly rural situations, and
still doing so in retirement, I would like to highlight a piece of
bureaucracy that has been undermining livestock farmers in recent
On the dire situation of
farmers whose sheep have died in large numbers in snowdrifts, one
speaker said: "The Welsh government has given permission for them
to be buried on farmland because it has proved impossible to
dispose of them in a conventional manner."
How many people are aware
that dead animals are now classified as "industrial waste"? This
means that carcasses now have to be very expensively collected by
licensed agents; and so they sometimes have to be stored on farms
before they are collected, later to go on transport that travels
around to other farms, and then finally sometimes across several
counties, to the nearest available incinerator.
Apparently the bureaucrats
regard this as a green method of disposal. All of the expense falls
on the original owner of these now valueless animals.
Apart from the stupidity of
unnecessarily delaying the safe disposal of dead and diseased
carcasses, and then carting rotting and perhaps infectious bodies
over large distances from farm to farm (as happened on a huge scale
during the last foot-and-mouth outbreak), in what way can it be
better for the environment to have all this haulage, and then to
consume massive energy resources by incineration? Bodies do not
The old and much saner
convention, and one that was particularly well used by Welsh hill
farmers, was to dig a hole close to the dead animal soon after
discovery and then roll it in, where the environment turned it into
a useful product.
Officialdom would be more
effective if it concentrated on making sure that the old convention
was strictly and efficiently carried out. This is just one example
of how, because of poor understanding, decision-makers can
erroneously overrule those who undertake work at the coalface, and
who have learnt practices well tried for dealing with problems that
are familiar to those of their calling.
Perhaps there is a
sheep-based parable here that could also be applied to other
professions, such as education, health care, and even church
East Sussex TN31 6UL