Simplified badger BCG vaccination licence launched for England 

Defra has launched a simplified badger vaccination licence as part of efforts to step up the fight against bovine TB in England.

The new licence to trap badgers for vaccination enables those trained to undertake this activity to register as an “authorised person”.

This means applicants will no longer need to apply for an individual licence, provide extensive information in support of that application and wait up to 30 working days for a decision.  

See also: 5 ways to improve TB control in the UK

Defra says the move will cut red tape for those wishing to vaccinate badgers – and allow more badgers to be vaccinated against TB with the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine.

Farmers, landowners and vaccination groups can register online now for the new licence at Gov.UK. They will need to provide information about their training experience and can expect a decision within just 48 hours.

If successful, they will be able to start vaccinating badgers straightaway on land where they have the landowner’s permission to do so, and can report their activity in real-time through a new smartphone app, developed by the Worldwide Veterinary Service.  

In 2021, 1,575 badgers were vaccinated across England, and it is hoped that the licence – alongside a new subsidy cutting the cost of the BadgerBCG vaccine by almost half – will facilitate and encourage more farmers, landowners and vaccination groups to get involved in these projects.

East Sussex project

This includes a five-year programme in East Sussex, which was awarded £2.27m last year to support farmers deploying vaccines over an area of 250sq km.

Minister for Biosecurity Lord Benyon said: “Bovine TB is one of the most difficult and intractable animal health challenges that the UK faces today, causing considerable trauma for farmers and costing taxpayers more than £100m every year. 

“The widespread vaccination of badgers is a key cornerstone of our strategy to eradicate TB by 2038, with our new and simplified licence allowing more farmers and vaccination groups to join the fight against this insidious disease.”