Electric Fencing: How To Fight The New Restrictions

UK - Outdoor pig farmers will need to orchestrate a campaign to prevent – or at least delay - the Great Escape.
calendar icon 5 April 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

As has been reported here before, the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (Cenelec) has undemocratically decided electric fencing energizers must be restricted to five joules.

This isn’t enough to keep grown pigs in their paddocks. Outdoor producers typically use energisers of 10-20 joules.

Acting on the advice of NFU transport and inputs adviser Alex Dinsdale, NPA will be writing to the committee asking for an indefinite delay in publishing the amended standard.

There is nothing to stop individual outdoor producers from adding their weight to the campaign.

Containing outdoor sows is a British problem and the committee needs to be made aware that restricting the power output of energisers could jeopardise the safety of pigs and people, particularly motorists.

NPA’s letter will urge the committee to delay publication of the new standard until farmers - as the end-users of energisers - have been allowed to participate in some kind of democratic decision-making process.

Alex Dinsdale, who has been fighting Cenelec's decision from day one, says that before the new standards are imposed on the agricultural industry it is only reasonable that the committee explains:

  • What improvements in safety will be achieved.

  • How livestock farmers will contain stock in the absence of effective electric fencing.

NFU will continue to pressure the European farmers’ organisation Copa (Committee of Professional Agricultural Organisations in the European Union) to take the case up robustly.

NFU and NPA have already written to Cenelec director general Elena Santiago expressing mystification as to why a change is being forced through with no consultation.

Only two years ago International Electrotechnical Commission members from around the world considered such a restriction – and comprehensively rejected it, not least because of its questionable impact on safety.

For example, there were nine deaths and 308 serious injuries in Germany in 2002 from road accidents due to wandering animals, but there have been only two electric fence fatalities over the past ten years, and both involved alcohol.

Britain’s representative on Cenelec voted against the proposal to restrict energiser output to five joules, but he was up against a concerted drive by the French and Germans.

It has been suggested French and German electric fence firms want output restricted to five joules because it would keep other countries’ more powerful energisers off the market.

Consider the position of the French and German electric energiser manufacturers: a five joules energiser cannot cover much more than 30 acres; therefore farmers will have to buy considerably more energisers.

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