Pigeon Racing: English Channel

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 24th May 2022.

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Photo of Sarah Olney Sarah Olney Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Transport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken to support pigeon racing across the English Channel.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Following successful discussions between Defra and the European Union (EU) Commission, supported by sector campaigning here and on the continent, the EU has recently introduced amendments to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/692 ('entry to the Union') together with an associated Export Health Certificate (EHC) to enable cross-channel pigeon racing to restart. Prior to these changes racing pigeons were within the scope of the EU's definition of 'captive birds' following the introduction of the Animal Health Regulation (AHR) in the EU on 21 April 2021. The requirements of this, including quarantine on arrival in the EU, had made racing non-viable for the sector and were disproportionate to the animal health risk posed to the EU by this activity.

To enable pigeon fanciers to utilise the derogation provided by the EU a registration system for establishments (pigeon lofts) will be made available from 24 May 2022. In addition, the new EHC for racing pigeons from Great Britain (GB) sent to the EU or Northern Ireland (NI) for the purpose of immediate release for racing back to GB, will be available on Gov.uk on the 24 May 2022.

Establishments must be registered with the competent authority if keepers want to use the new EHC and move racing pigeons from that premises in GB to the EU or NI for the purpose of immediate release for racing back to GB. Pigeon lofts that do not wish to engage in racing from the EU or Northern Ireland are unaffected by these changes.

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