The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has indicated this week that his officials are in “on-going communication” with Irish exporters to ensure that the lairage capacity at Cherbourg is optimised.

The minister also urged the live export sector “to consider” developing additional lairage at the port.

Minister Creed was speaking during written answers in the Dáil after he was asked by Fianna Fáil’s deputy Jackie Cahill to explain the progress made on increasing lairage capacity at Cherbourg to cope with the volume of dairy calves in spring 2020.

Cahill also asked if the agreed extension of two hours as per the regulations governing the port of destination and its vicinity will be used to speed up the provision of extra lairage capacity.

Optimising capacity

The minister, meanwhile, pointed to how his officials are in on-going communication with Irish exporters with regard to the need for co-operative management between each other to ensure that the lairage capacity at Cherbourg is optimised.

I would urge the live export sector to consider developing an additional lairage in Cherbourg or to engage with the owners of existing facilities to explore the potential for additional capacity.

He continued: “This has proved possible as evidenced by the French authorities approving an increase of the holding capacity of the Qualivia lairage in Cherbourg earlier this year.

“My department worked closely with the French authorities in this matter. The move allowed for additional daily capacity for 400 animals, providing increased capacity of some 1,200 animals per week.”

‘Coordination in the trade’

Minister Creed, meanwhile, went on to say that he has suggested – in his meetings with live exporters – that a group be set up to represent their interests “with a view to enhancing coordination in relation to the live export trade”.

I welcome the establishment of the new exporters’ body.

He added: “I am committed to formal engagement with exporters and I have arranged for a meeting with the new body later this week to discuss and review existing export procedures, including lairage facilities in Cherbourg.

“In relation to the two-hour extension outlined in Council Regulation No 1/2005, this provision is provided solely for the welfare and interests of the animals involved.

“The EU Commission has provided explicit guidelines in relation to this provision insofar as the granting of such an extension is dependent on the proximity to the place of destination.”