News - Defra lifts bird fair restriction
A ban on bird fairs which was brought in to combat the potential spread of bird flu has been lifted in the UK.
Falconry events, pigeon races and other events involving birds can go ahead as they did before the temporary EU-wide restrictions came in during the autumn.
Environment department Defra said the ban was reviewed and risk analyses were carried out before it was lifted.
But the Liberal Democrats accused ministers of making an "unwise and precipitous" decision.
"Defra seems to have caved in to a small group of bird fanciers at the risk of animal welfare and public health," said Lib Dem environment spokesman Norman Baker.
The ban was enforced at the height of fears that the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain could mutate and create a human flu pandemic.
During November, the government described the risk of H5N1 bird flu hitting the UK as "increased but low".
The latest move means bird events within the British Isles may now go ahead under general licence.
Event organisers must advise their local State Veterinary Service Animal Health Office in advance and comply with bio-security measures.
Other relevant legislation will still apply, Defra said.
The British Falconers' Club welcomed the move.
Director John Callaghan said: "We will be vigilant and work within the constraints of what Defra advises."
BBC NEWS UK UK Politics Defra lifts bird fair restriction