TT 2002 and F&M

TT 2002 is on as long as foot and mouth stays away only a foot-and-mouth outbreak near the TT course will prevent the races from going ahead next year, the chief minister has vowed. Donald Gelling outlined to Tynwald the steps which should ensure the event runs even if the disease remains in the UK. As widely anticipated, he confirmed on Monday the races would go ahead.

In a huge blow to the Island's economy, this year's races were called off due to the threat of foot-and-mouth disease reaching the Island. He revealed the government plans to build fences on farmland surrounding the TT course to keep livestock five metres away from roads. He said the government was taking a new approach by 'keeping livestock away from people' rather than the other way round. This year's races were cancelled amid fears the Island would be hit by the disease but it proved detrimental to the tourism industry. Mr Gelling said similar action next year would be avoided at all costs. The Council of Ministers has backed the decision to proceed with the TT regardless of the UK situation.

Mr Gelling told Tynwald: 'The only option we had in 2001 was to close most rural spectator areas in order to keep people away from livestock. 'With a much longer timescale for planning and implementation we would look at the opposite approach - keep livestock away from people. 'This will involve the creation of livestock-free corridors around the TT course primarily by the erection of a second line of fencing set back around five metres from the main fence or hedge.'

Initial estimates suggest this will cost between £500,000 and £1 million. Other measures will include disinfecting all people and vehicles entering the Island.

Mr Gelling said: 'I am sure that in 2002 the community will pull together to ensure that, regardless of what happens in the UK, the TT races will go ahead without jeopardising our bio-security. 'In this spirit I am sure we will get extensive cooperation from landowners.' He said the TT would be approached on a 'cross-departmental basis'. Answering a question from Geoff Cannell (Onchan), Mr Gelling said the TT could even go ahead if there was an outbreak of foot-and-mouth in the Island so long as it was an isolated case far away from the course.

But he said it would be a different matter if there was an outbreak on land next to the course as the road and therefore the course would have to be closed.

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