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Sunday, 21 November 2010

Scottish dog sled racers can now take dogs with them

A bizarre headline you may think?

If the EC Directive had gone through, the dog sled racing teams would have been limited on the total number of dogs that can be moved from one country to another at any one time to five per person.

The Directive would have stopped Scottish sled dog teams participating in races in mainland Europe.
This barking mad EU Directive has now been reversed after interventions from Scotland's Liberal Democrat MEP, George Lyon and Tory MEP, Struan Stevenson.

The European Commission has now also ruled commercial passports for individual dogs, which cost £150 each, will be replaced with a special licence to keep costs down. It will be valid for four months to cover the racing season.
George Lyon lobbied the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli on behalf of the Sled Dog Association of Scotland and professional racer Alan Stewart of Aviemore.

I was actually with George Lyon and his press officer Graeme on one of the occasions some of the lobbying actually took place.

The Commissioner, John Dalli, set up a working group which has now persuaded the Council of Commissioners to exempt this specialist sport from the directive.

The Press and Journal report;
Mr Stewart, who owns the Cairngorm Sleddog Centre at Aviemore, said: “It is great we can get back into the Alps and race with people who understand the meaning of sled-dog racing. This was an issue I pushed and spent a lot of time on it because it truly affected people across Europe. It is a way of life, not a hobby or a pastime.”

Mr Lyon said: I am pleased that commissioner Dalli has stayed true to his word and pushed for greater flexibility in the regulation. The new four-month licence will allow sled-dog teams to travel to events across Europe. We must now learn if the licence works in practice and I will keep in touch with racers to ensure that is the case.”
It does go to show that having an effective, responsive MEP in Scotland means things can actually be achieved within the European angle of politics.

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