Abattoirs will need to install CCTV cameras in all areas where there are live animals are present under new legislation to be introduced by the Scottish Government.

It has pledged to bring forward legislation later in the year.

This is intended to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare in abattoirs, by helping those responsible for enforcing welfare legislation.

The proposal was backed by the vast majority of respondents to a recent consultation carried out by the Scottish Government.

Announcing the news ahead of a Parliamentary Statement on Animal Welfare, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment Mairi Gougeon said:

“More than eight out of ten slaughterhouses in Scotland have already installed CCTV coverage in their premises voluntarily, and over 95% of all animals slaughtered in Scotland are covered by some form of CCTV. However, the standards of that coverage can differ from location to location.

“This government is committed to ensuring the highest standards of welfare for all animals. And we are pleased that so many respondents to our consultation backed our proposals to make this compulsory. It was important also to consider the financial implications of such a move for industry, and whether other options might be available to improve animal welfare.

“Following a positive response to the consultation, I’m delighted to announce that I will introduce legislation to the Scottish Parliament in 2019, which will help to improve further the already high standards being followed by the livestock sector in Scotland.”

Animal rights groups have claimed that the abuse of animals is widespread in slaughterhouses, and believe independently-monitored CCTV cameras will help to limit their suffering.

The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers welcomed the Scottish government announcement, but said more than 95% of animals slaughtered in Scotland go through abattoirs that already use CCTV systems.

It also insisted the industry had an “open and transparent approach” with the veterinary authorities and follows the strict welfare controls which are monitored by Food Standards Scotland.

A spokesman for the association said some existing CCTV systems may need to be upgraded or completely replaced under the proposals, and called for assurances that the industry will be given help to meet any additional costs as has already happened in Wales.