Fresh doubts cast on badger cull

A Labour MP has cast doubts on whether a badger cull to combat bovine TB in England will take place this year.

Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, raised the issue in the House of Commons on Thursday (12 May).

The Badger Act meant a badger cull could only take place between May and September, he told MPs.

“Any change to this Act would require secondary legislation, which could only come after 1 October,” said Mr Blenkinsop.

The MP then asked whether the government could confirm whether a badger cull to combat bovine tuberculosis would take place this year.

In response, farm minister Jim Paice said a government consultation on the matter had raised a number of issues.

“As I said to the NFU AGM [in February], it produced a number of challenges that we need to work through,” said Mr Paice.

“We will make an announcement about a total package of measures to combat this awful disease as soon as we possible can.”

Meanwhile, farmers hoping for a badger cull in Wales have found themselves in limbo following last week’s Welsh Assembly elections.

Elin Jones, Plaid Cyrmu AM for Ceredigion, was re-elected but she will not retain ministerial responsibility for rural affairs.

The Labour Party has confirmed its plans to govern alone after gaining 30 of the 60 assembly seats.

The decision to form a one-party minority government means Labour will now draw a rural affairs minister from its own ranks.

As rural affairs minister, Ms Jones was an ardent supporter of a proposed badger cull to combat bovine TB.

But it remains unclear how the proposals will be taken forward under the new Labour administration.