My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Ramsgate Animal Exports: High Court Welfare Ruling As Traders Fall Out

In a case involving Ramsgate live animal exporters Johannes Onderwater and Thomas Lomas and the  Government’s Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA)  the High Court has made a landmark ruling which  puts the welfare of animals before the profits of the traders. 

The  case resulted from a major   fall out between animal exporters Onderwater and Lomas which led  to  a legal dispute  about APHA  policy on animal transportation. The dispute reached the High Court in November 2018 and the  56 page judgment was published in February 2019.

It would appear that long-established  live export trader Thomas Lomas from the Norwich area  fell out with Johannes Onderwater, the Dutch owner of the  live export ferry Joline which has operated  from Ramsgate Port since 2011, over a large, unpaid,  debt.

Rather than continuing to export animals from Ramsgate using Onderwater’s ferry Joline, Lomas decided to apply to the Government’s Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA)   for permission to export his animals for slaughter in the EU  via a route from   Scotland to Northern Ireland, then to the  Republic of Ireland  and finally to France.

According to the High Court this is a journey time of approximately 90 hours as opposed to a journey time of 20 hours if Mr Lomas was to have used the Ramsgate/ Joline route to the EU. On the basis of the long journey time the APHA rejected Mr Lomas’ export application arguing that 

For reasons of animal welfare the transport of animals over long journeys, including animals for slaughter, should be limited as far as possible (High Court approved judgment


In respect of animal transportation via long journeys from the UK, Defra’s policy has been to refuse authorisation for a journey route other than the shortest route, unless it is shown that the shortest route is not available within a reasonable period of time.

Convicted Cruel Animal Exporter Thomas Lomas - Credit The Times
Mr Lomas argued that the Scotland / Ireland / France route was much cheaper than using the Ramsgate/ EU route and that the Joline transportation charges were so high that he would lose money by exporting animals from Ramsgate.  

Lomas also  claimed  that by refusing him permission to export animals via the Irish route, the APHA were, in effect,  forcing him to use a transport option which would cause  him to lose money.  In so doing the APHA were taking actions which would force Lomas out the live export business and that this was in breach of EU free trade regulations. Mr Lomas sought and judicial review and compensation from the APHA  for the loss of business caused by its policy.

After investigating Lomas’ claims judge, Mr Justice Morris,  concluded that the exporter had failed to prove his financial losses and to demonstrate that the APHA ‘s rejection of his transport plans would unlawfully drive him out business. Lomas’ application for a judicial review of that decision was rejected.

Thomas  Lomas was, in February 2013, convicted of serious breaches of animal welfare regulations at Dover Magistrates Court. These breaches led to 2 sheep drowning  the more than 40 sheep being destroyed at Ramsgate Port on 12 September 2012. Lomas was fined £4,000, ordered to pay £15,000 costs and given a 6 months suspended prison sentence for committing these horrendous and cruel offences.

By seeking to  force animals to endure a 90 hour journey in cramped  conditions Lomas has demonstrated,  yet again, that he is a cruel and barbaric man with no concern for the welfare of the animals in his care. Thankfully,  Mr Justice Morris put paid to Lomas’ plans by ruling that the welfare of animals being transported long distances is more important that the blood money which the animal welfare abusing Lomas hoped to pocket from their suffering during a  90 hours  journey by road and two ferries.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Ramsgate Air Quality Monitoring Failure 1000s At Risk

The health and well-being of  thousands  people living in  Ramsgate is being put at risk. Why?  Because for almost 5 months Thanet Council (TDC)  has  failed to regularly and comprehensively  monitor  air quality in the town.

Ramsgate’s air quality is measured by a remote monitoring station, located at  Boundary Road. The station is designed to take hourly measurements, 365 days a year, of  the levels of dangerous airborne pollutants including Nitrous Oxide, Nitrogen Dioxide and particulate matter. A second remote monitoring station is located in Birchington.

Along with 15 other remote air quality monitoring stations, Thanet’s 2 stations are connected to the Kent and Medway Air Quality Monitoring Network (KMAQMN). Via its website KMAQMN uses the data produced by the 17 monitoring station to provide “real-time”, hourly air quality measurements for the whole of Kent. Here is the link

According to information I have obtained, whilst the Birchington station appears to be operating normally and producing regular hourly readings every day,  the Ramsgate station ceased to operate at  6am on  30 October 2018.   Since then no air pollution readings have been recorded by the station.  No other station in the KMAQMN has been out of action for as long as the Ramsgate station.

TDC operates  a number of smaller air quality monitoring facilities across the district but these stations do not provide hourly, or daily air pollution measurements, nor do they measure the full range of airborne  pollutants  and none of these stations are  connected to the  KMAQMN real-time air quality monitoring service.

The lack of comprehensive regular air quality monitoring in Ramsgate is a very serious matter. It prevents anyone from knowing when airborne pollution in the town  exceeds safe levels, making it  impossible to issue health warnings if  pollution  becomes  high. This means that the lives of thousands of people living in the Ramsgate area, who have asthma or cardio-vascular disease, are being put at serious risk by the Council because of its 5 month failure to get the towns monitoring station working.

It’s impossible to overstate the threat to health posed by of air pollution.  Public health experts from across the world, including the World Health Organisation (WHO)  have, for many years,  been warning of the dangers of airborne pollution which can cause, and make much worse,  heart and lung disease. Recent reports have also linked  air pollution with Alzheimer’s disease.

The WHO estimates that 8 million people worldwide, die prematurely each year as a result of breathing polluted air. According to a  2018 report produced by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants,  approximately 36,000 premature deaths each year are caused by air pollution in the UK.  

Statistics published in 2018 by the Kent Public Health Observatory identify Thanet  has having the highest rate of death due to air pollution in the whole of Kent with 20 in every 1000 deaths being caused, or contributed to, by airborne pollution.  

It’s hard to believe that the Council with the highest air pollution death rates in Kent has allowed one of its remote air quality monitoring stations to remain out of action  for almost 5 months. Those responsible for this situation are putting the health, well-being and ultimately the lives of thousands of vulnerable people at risk!

So serious is the health threat of air pollution that laws and regulations have been introduced by successive UK and EU Governments to monitor and control this danger. EU Directive 2008/50/, Part 4 of the Environment Act 1995  and the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 all place legal responsibilities upon national, regional and local government, including TDC,  to regularly, monitor, assess and report on the levels of air pollution in the area which they  are responsible for, and to produce action plans to tackle this problem.

TDCs failure to regularly and comprehensively  measure air quality in Ramsgate means that its pollution reports and action plans will, without the monitoring station data,  be hopelessly inaccurate.

It is also very  likely that a lack of regular air monitoring in Ramsgate will  place TDC  in breach of the UK and EU  and regulations mentioned above,  and could lead to heavy fines being imposed on the Council for acting unlawfully.  Indeed paragraph 30 of EU Directive 2008/50 says that

Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented. The penalties provided for must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive

I have said it before and I will say it again -  I believe Thanet  Council to be  one of the most dangerous local authorities  in the country, with a reckless and criminal disregard for the health, safety and well-being of its citizens and staff. The failure to measure and monitor air pollution in Ramsgate is yet further evidence of TDCs irresponsible and negligent attitude towards  the health and well-being of  thousands of its citizens.

Questions must be asked about why an air quality monitoring station covering a large  Thanet town was allowed to be inactive for almost 5 months? If the station had malfunctioned, which appears to be likely, why wasn’t it repaired?   Why did the Council fail to publicly report the fact that the station was not operational? Why was alternative monitoring equipment  not deployed to replace the malfunctioning station? I have asked these questions, and many more,  via a Freedom of Information Request (FOIR) which I have submitted to TDC today. I will be interested to hear TDCs explanation , unless of course they use every trick in the FOI book to resist my request.

With regards to the Council’s law breaking it would appear that the  Secretary of State for the Environment and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, is responsible for  overseeing the implementation of  EU Directive 2008/50, Part 4 of the Environment Act 1995  and the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010. I have written to Mr Gove today setting out my concerns about TDCs failings and hope that he will launch an urgent investigation and levy the appropriate penalty upon our dangerously incompetent council.

One of the most important duties of a local authority is to  promote the health and well-being of the people it serves and the staff it employs. To neglect,  and put in danger the  health and welfare of thousands of Ramsgate residents by failing to  monitor and asses air quality in the town is reckless in the extreme. Any investigation must name those responsible for this failure and the appropriate action must be taken.

I only hope that the shut down of the Ramsgate air monitoring Station was not a cynical exercise in cost cutting at the expense of the health and well-being of the people of Ramsgate.