Welsh badger cull blocked on technicality

A controversial cull of badgers in west Wales will not go ahead after The Badger Trust won its legal challenge to stop it.

The charity had appealed against Welsh Assembly Government plans for a trial cull to reduce bovine TB in north Pembrokeshire.

Three law lords sitting in the High Court, Cardiff, today (Tuesday) quashed that order.

Wales’ Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, expressed her disappointed with the judgement, given that the court had recognised the serious impact that bovine TB was having in Wales and the need to tackle the disease.

“We will now need to consider the judges’ decision in detail before deciding our next steps,” she said. “It is however clear that if we don’t tackle all sources of infection we will not eradicate it. Farmers, their families and our rural communities are suffering from the devastating consequences of this disease and I remain committed to its eradication.”

The pilot cull of badgers was due to take place within a 288 sq km area of south-west Wales after the go-ahead was given in January.

David Williams, chairman of The Badger Trust, said he is delighted the cull has been halted but is disappointed that the judgment wasn’t based solely on science rather the legal technicalities.

He said the trust would be keeping a close eye on the Welsh Assembly Government’s next move. “While the scientific evidence is weighted against a badger cull we will continue to challenge this route to tackling TB,” said Mr Williams.

He admitted that the legal challenge had been costly and had substantially depleted the charity’s funds. “We have relied solely on small donations from members of the public and from local badger groups,” he said. “Our resources have been depleted by this action but at the end of the day this is what we are here for, to look after the interests of wildlife.”

The Pembrokeshire Against the Cull (PAC) pressure group also welcomed the court ruling.

It claims the proposed cull was “hugely unpopular” in the area where it was due to take place. The group said it hoped Elin Jones would now review other options for dealing with TB in cattle. “The science does not support culling as TB actually increases in badgers as their social structure is disrupted. The costs of a badger cull far outweigh any small benefits,” said a PAC spokesman.

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