National Farmers’ Union (NFU) head of food and farming Phil Hudson said the NFU was “reassured” by the court's decision, which will allow the pilot culls to commence in Gloucester and Somerset within days.
He said that the NFU knew that the cull, which is to be carried out as part of the government’s attempt to tackle bovine tuberculosis (bTB), would be challenged because of the level of public interest in the matter. However, he added that it was vital to protect the livelihood of farmers.
“We are pleased that the judges upheld the High Court’s decision. This news is critically important to cattle farmers and their families who are blighted with this disease on their farms,” he said.
A spokesman for the Badger Trust said it was disappointed by the loss of the appeal. He explained: “The judgment concerns the legality of killing badgers and clarifies the law under the Badger Protection Act 1992. It also serves to demonstrate that the Act is clearly unfit for its purpose of protecting the badger.
“The culling of at least 40,000 badgers is a misguided part of the programme to eradicate bTB and flies in the face of established science. This says that killing badgers could make no meaningful contribution, might make the situation worse and that the rigid application of cattle-based control measures alone are sufficient.”
Hudson, however, said the NFU would continue to support the government’s “science-led bTB eradication policy” to help end the terrible and damaging disease. He added: “We will now work to help those delivering the two pilot culls to ensure they they are safe, effective and humane.”