DEFRA’s decision to permit a badger cull in two pilot areas in England will be challenged in the High Court, a judge has ruled.
A judge told the Badger Trust on Friday (20 April) that its application for a review of the government’s controversial badger culling policy had been successful.
The permission was granted on each of the three grounds requested by the Trust when it launched its appeal in February:
• That the culls will not meet the strict legal test of “preventing the spread of disease” in the licensed areas and may actually spread bovine TB.
• That DEFRA’s cost impact assessment is flawed as it does not allow for the possibility that the “much more costly” cage trapping could be the only culling method available, if free shooting is outlawed.
• That Natural England’s guidance as the licensing authority is invalid as killing badgers is not one of its original functions.
NFU President Peter Kendall said the Union was not surprised by the judge’s decision, especially given the amount of public interest in the issue.
“We hope that the hearing will be expedited,” he said.
“No other country in the world has ever tackled TB successfully without also controlling TB in its wildlife reservoir.
“The NFU fully supports the two badger control pilots areas as part of the Government’s science-led policy to tackle what is a terrible and damaging disease.
“We all want to see a healthy countryside and that needs healthy badgers and healthy cattle.”
Badger Trust’s solicitor, Gwendolen Morgan of Bindmans LLP, said: “We are pleased that the court has given the Badger Trust’s challenge the green light on all three grounds. The badger cull as proposed would make matters worse at great cost to farmers, badgers and rural communities.”