Lovers of the outdoors are breathing a sigh of relief after foot-and-mouth-disease tests on an Essex pig proved negative.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had closed an abattoir near Brentwood, run by Cheale Meats. A pig had been reported as having a blistered nose.

Defra originally imposed a livestock-movement ban within an eight-kilometre (five-mile) radius of the premises. This has now been lifted.

Debby Reynolds, Chief Veterinary Officer said yesterday: “Further negative laboratory test results tonight for foot-and-mouth disease and swine vesicular disease mean that restrictions have been lifted on the slaughterhouse in Essex, and the farm the pigs originated from. The 8km radius zone surrounding the slaughterhouse has also been removed.

“The swift response of the State Veterinary Service, Meat Hygiene Service, and Institute for Animal Health and the subsequent handling of this suspect case has demonstrated the strength of our contingency plan, and our partnership with the industry.”

The alarm came on the very day Environment Secretary David Miliband was walking the moors of West Yorkshire to celebrate the first anniversary of the full implementation of right-to-roam legislation. The 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) led to the closing of huge swathes of the British countryside and the destruction of thousands of farm animals.

Pigs carrying FMD were transported to the Essex abattoir of Cheale Meats during the 2001 outbreak.