Badger Trust moves to challenge cull decision

The Badger Trust has made an application for a judicial review to challenge the legality of Defra’s decision in April to continue the badger cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

The badger welfare group is claiming that the Defra secretary of state Owen Paterson has acted unlawfully in not setting up an Independent Expert Panel for the planned culling in 2014, to survey the efficacy and humaneness of the culls. The culls are part of a plan to eradicate bovine TB by 2038.

Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust and policy advisor at Care for the Wild, said: “Owen Paterson made a clear commitment to Parliament and the wider public that an independent panel will oversee and evaluate the pilot culls and report back to the government prior to any decision being taken on the policy being rolled out more widely. It is not acceptable for the Defra secretary of state to now push aside the concerns of both the Independent Expert Panel and the British Veterinary Association (BVA), by moving ahead with a further badger cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset this summer without any independent monitoring in place.”

With Paterson putting a national roll out on hold on 3 April 2014, he declared that Defra would focus on improvements to the Somerset and Gloucestershire culls before going nationwide. Dyer added: “To make any decision on a national roll out of the hugely controversial badger cull policy without these independent monitoring safeguards, is in our view illegal and will lead to huge public and political anger. We therefore call on the BVA and members of the 2013 Pilot Cull Independent Expert Panel to support the Badger Trust legal challenge”

However the BVA announced that it will not be supporting the application for judicial review. A spokesperson said: “We are concerned that recent media reports, and the Badger Trust’s news release announcing the application for a judicial review, have misrepresented our position and that some news articles have incorrectly suggested that BVA has withdrawn its support for badger culling as part of the overall strategy to eradicate bovine TB.

“BVA continues to believe that the TB eradication strategy for England will only be successful if we are able to use all of the available tools, including targeted, humane badger culling.”
 
A Defra spokesperson responded to the Badger Trusts’s application: “Bovine TB is a devastating disease for our cattle and dairy industries, which is why we are determined to do everything we can to combat it.

“Monitoring of the badger culls will continue this year to assess the impact of the changes we are making following the Independent Expert Panel’s recommendations.”

Defra added: “These changes will be monitored to assess their impact before further decisions are taken on more badger cull licences next year.”

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