|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
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
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