DEFRA ‘still on course’ for cull decision

The shelving of a badger cull to combat bovine tuberculosis in Wales has no bearing on the situation in England, says DEFRA.

A decision on whether to cull badgers in England would be announced by the end of July, said a DEFRA spokesman.

The government was still on course to announce a package of measures to combat bovine TB before the parliamentary recess, he added.

It comes after Welsh environment minister John Griffiths announced that proposals for a pilot badger cull in north Pembrokeshire would be put on hold.

The Welsh government will now review the science behind the plans and other measures which formed the previous government’s TB eradication policy. English farm leaders joined their Welsh counterparts in condemning the decision.

The Country Land and Business Association said the huge damage to farming and the rural economy by bovine TB meant the Welsh cull should have gone ahead.

CLA deputy president Harry Cotterell, who farms near Hereford, said: “Scientific research has already been done into the link between badgers and bovine TB. By appointing a panel of experts to re-examine the issue, the Welsh government has effectively kicked this key decision to the kerb.”

Some 10% of cattle farms in Wales were under TB movement restrictions, with a reported £12m paid in compensation to Welsh farmers last year.

“Not to push on with the planned badger cull alongside other measures to control bovine TB in cattle is clearly a very bad decision.”

Animal welfare campaigners, however, have welcomed the decision. The Badger Trust said it hoped any further steps to implement a cull in west Wales would be put on hold while the scientific review is underway.

But Welsh shadow minister for rural affairs, Antoinette Sandbach, said the decision not to cull was a severe blow to farmers.

“By effectively shelving the pilot cull, the Welsh Labour government has cruelly betrayed the farming industry right across Wales.”

Ms Sandbach added: “We urgently need to see the specific legal and scientific evidence that has led to this postponement. I also want a breakdown of the full cost of putting the eradication policy on hold and conducting a review.”