Judge mulls over badger cull decision

A High Court hearing challenging the legality of a planned badger cull in Wales has concluded with a judgment expected as early as next week.

The two-day hearing at Swansea ended after the judge, Mr Justice Lloyd Jones, listened to evidence from the Badger Trust and the Welsh Assembly Government.

He told the court he would attempt to hand down his judgment before next week’s end to the court term or immediately after the Easter Bank holiday.

The Badger Trust had sought the judicial review because it wants the TB Eradication Order (Wales) 2009 quashed. Its barrister argued that when the assembly government took its decision, insufficient weight had been given to other alternatives.

The Trust’s chairman, David Williams, said: “There is simply no scientific basis for slaughtering badgers in the belief that it will significantly reduce the spread of bovine TB.

“Conversely, it may make matters worse and will cost more to the tax payer. On any sensible view, it is simply unjustified. As the ministers’ own advisers concluded, the way forward is to maintain a strict testing regime and to improve the efficiency of the TB test alongside vaccination.”

The Welsh Assembly Government swiftly issued a statement saying: “It is now up to the court to decide.”

Its spokesman said there was a TB crisis in Wales that needed to be dealt with.

“Our policy is to eradicate TB in all species. This is why we have adopted a comprehensive package of measures,” said the spokesman.

“Cattle controls and badger culling are the only tools available. Vaccination is not yet tried, tested, proven and available, and neither will it benefit animals that are already infected. We have said that when it is, we will consider it.”