Anyone who transports animals as part of their business will have to get the go-ahead from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development under new rules.
The revised rules come into force at the start of the new year and will require anyone transporting animals to seek authorisation for short or long journeys.
However, farmers moving their own animals in their own vehicles for distances of less than 50km from their holdings will not need permission, nor will anyone bringing animals to the vet. And anyone transporting pets, even on holiday, hobby animals and those who ride for pleasure and transport their own horses will not be affected by the new regulations.
The new EU Regulation replaces an existing EU Directive on the protection of animals during transport. Two types of authorisation will be issued by the Department, one for short journeys (over 65km and up to eight hours) and one for long journeys, including those of eight hours and over.
For short journeys, transporters will have to fill out an application form confirming that they do not hold an authorisation in any other Member State and that they have the correct equipment and staff in place to transport the animals in compliance with the new rules.
The long journey authorisation for trips over 65km and over eight hours' duration will also cover journeys which last eight hours or less. Further conditions will have to be met by those applying for a long journey authorisation, including a requirement for transporters of farm animals and horses to have their vehicles inspected and approved by DARD.
DARD has already written to all known animal transporters with information, guidance notes and application forms and asked them to make an appointment to have their vehicles inspected at Redlands Road in Larne. At the moment, authorisations, vehicle inspection and approvals are free and will be valid for five years.