A new outbreak of foot and mouth has been confirmed in cattle in Surrey, it was reported today.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs said it could not confirm if the results of tests on animals suspected of contracting the disease on farmland in Egham were positive for foot and mouth.

But there was a confused picture as some news organisations said sources had revealed that test results showed it was the disease. The cattle involved were being culled and a 10km protection zone was set up around the farmland.

The affected area is about 10 miles from the previous outbreak near Pirbright, which was caused by a leak from a laboratory site nearby.

In the wake of today’s news, the European Commission halted plans to resume meat exports from Britain into the rest of Europe.

The development came just days after it was believed that the outbreak centred on Pirbright, which caused widespread disruption and concern during August, had been successfully dealt with.

Shadow environment secretary Peter Ainsworth called for the imposition of an immediate national ban on the movement of livestock.

"This latest suspected outbreak is another bitter blow to the farming community which has just allowed itself to breathe a sigh of relief after the last outbreak," he said.

"As a precautionary measure the Government should immediately impose a national ban on the movement of all livestock.

"No-one can afford to take any undue risks. It is vital to lose no time in taking every possible measure in ensuring an outbreak of foot-and-mouth does not spread."