The judgment allowing the shipping of livestock through Dover to the Continent is the biggest prize of all for the animal exporters. Dover is the shortest Channel crossing and will allow exporters to speed veal calves to their crates in the most economic manner possible.
Dover is also an ideal arena for civil disobedience and many in the animal rights movement intend to ensure that non-violent direct action is used to maximum effect at the port.
A central pillar of the three cases heard in the High Court on the live transport issue was the potential effect of mass demonstrations on the users of Coventry Airport, Dover Harbour and the residents of Plymouth. Kent Constabulary warned Dover Harbour Board in March that the port would be "under siege" from animal rights protesters if the trade went through the port. In a letter to the Harbour Board, police said: "The presence of more than 250 persons demonstrating at the port entrance, however peaceful, would have the effect of severely disrupting the free flow of traffic. Such a number of demonstrators could not be accommodated without impeding the highway itself."
They also warned that, in the event of any serious disturbance, the A2 and A20 approach roads would have to be closed, causing major disruption. They are now drawing up plans for dealing with the protests
Animal rights groups, including Respect for Animals and Compassion in World Farming, said they were now beginning to organise demonstrations against the trade at Dover. Veterans from Shoreham said they would travel to Dover to continue their protests against the trade and the RSPCA said they expect many of its members to attend. The groups expect hundreds, if not thousands, of their supporters at the protests. Most of the protesters at demonstrations at other ports and airports around the country were local people with no previous involvement in protest movements. Those organising the demonstrations at Dover hope their ranks will be swelled by first-time protesters.
Clare Baumberg - secretary of East Kent Animal Welfare, who will be helping co-ordinate the demonstrations - said they still expected to stop the trade despite the judgment. "We will be campaigning vociferously and peacefully. We don't want anybody hurt or killed but we're determined to stop the trade.
"The judges obviously haven't been to the docks because they have no idea the chaos that will ensue from the demonstrations. …