Badger culls given go-ahead in Gloucestershire and Somerset

 

A A A

Controversial badger culling to tackle tuberculosis in cattle is set to go ahead this summer, after two pilot schemes were given the green light today.

Pilot culls in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset, which will see the killing of 70% of badgers in each area, making a killing total thought to be around 5,000, have been authorised by Government agency Natural England after final licence conditions were met, with a third scheme in Dorset being prepared as a reserve to prevent any further delays.

The two pilot culls were delayed last year in the face of bad weather and the discovery that there were more badgers in the areas than previously estimated.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told farmers at the National Farmers' Union conference in Birmingham that he was committed to making sure the pilots went ahead.

He said tackling bovine TB had cost the taxpayer £500 million in the past 10 years, and costs could reach £1 billion over the next decade if the disease was left unchecked.

He said that research in the UK had shown that culling badgers, which can transmit TB to cattle, could reduce the levels of the disease in herds, and that Britain had to learn from experience elsewhere that the tuberculosis could not effectively be curbed without tackling the problem in wildlife.

He said he wanted to see effective and affordable vaccines deployed for both cattle and badgers as quickly as possible but it was likely to take another decade before the deployment of a cattle vaccine which is validated and legal under EU regulations could take place.

Mr Paterson said: "Bovine TB is spreading at an alarming rate and causing real devastation to our beef and dairy industry. "

He said Natural England issued authorisation letters which confirmed culling could proceed this summer, as an important step towards taking the action needed to tackle the spread of TB in wildlife.

"I am determined that there are no further delays this year. That is why we have taken the sensible step with the farming industry to elect a reserve area that can be called upon should anything happen to prevent culling in Somerset or Gloucester.

"These pilot culls are just one part of our approach to control and eradicate this dreadful disease."

The move was welcomed by National Farmers' Union president Peter Kendall who said it would have been easy for the Environment Secretary to let TB slip down the list of priorities after last year's delay.

He backed Mr Paterson for working to ensure that the pilots were up and running this summer and that there would be a full roll-out of the cull next year.

He said the move mattered because of the damage TB did to the country's food production base, and described the 35,000 cattle which had to be slaughtered because of the disease in 2012 as a "scandalous waste".

The licences for the pilot schemes will allow culling to take place annually over a six-week period for four years. Up to 5,000 badgers will be killed across the two areas.

The move was criticised by Labour, which has consistently opposed a badger cull.

Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said: "The Government is pressing ahead with a badger cull despite 150 000 people signing a petition against it last year and scientists warning against this 'untested and risky approach'.

"As incompetent Defra ministers stagger from one crisis to the next, the policing costs, paid by the taxpayer, will balloon to £4 million while bovine TB will increase in the next two years as the shooting displaces badgers.

"Ministers should listen to the public and the scientists and drop this cull before any more public money is wasted."

Animal welfare groups also reacted angrily to the news that the pilot culls would go ahead this summer.

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: "Despite overwhelming scientific, public and parliamentary opposition the Government seems hell bent on pressing forward with their senseless plans to kill badgers.

"All the evidence shows that the answer to the problems of bovine TB in cattle does not lie in a cull that will be ineffective, wasteful and potentially damaging to the welfare of both farmand wild animals.

"We care about cattle and badgers alike and have great sympathy for the farmers dealing with the effects of this disease - but killing badgers is not the answer."

Mr Paterson admitted that there would be some additional costs as a result of having a reserve area in Dorset, but said it was a sensible step in light of what happened last year.

The Environment Department said the cull had been designed to minimise the risk of badgers moving around and spreading the disease, and that research had shown that culling could reduce TB by around 16% in cattle herds.

PA

Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?