The badger vaccination programme will leave the Welsh taxpayer £3.5 million out of pocket.
New figures reveal that had the Welsh Government opted for a cull of badgers in the north Pembrokeshire Intensive Action Area, the estimated cost would have been £4,990,000. But the cost saving to the taxpayer would have been around £5 million because of the reduction in payouts for TB infected cattle.
In comparison, the bill for the vaccination programme will be around £5,760,000 but with savings of just £2,304,000 the net loss to taxpayers will be £3,456,000.
According to the Farmers’ Union of Wales, this evidence had been presented to Environment Minister, John Griffiths, by his own department before he made the decision on which policy to opt for.
The FUW’s bovine TB spokesman, Brian Walters, said the decision to vaccinate badgers would lead to more cattle being infected and slaughtered.
“According to the government’s own figures, the cost to the taxpayer of doing this will be around £3.5 million more than it would have been if they’d proceeded with the cull,’’ he said.
He added that one of the arguments used by the anti-culling lobby had been that the cost of culling would outweigh any savings.
“As time has gone on the impact of culling has been found to be far more beneficial than some scientists had anticipated, making it at least cost-neutral, while at the same time saving the lives of cattle and preventing a great deal of heartache for farming families,” said Mr Walters.
“The fact that the Welsh Government are now prepared to opt for a more expensive and less effective policy which will lead to a loss of £3.5 million to the taxpayer and the needless slaughter of thousands of cattle, rather than pursue a policy which science and economics tells us is best for Wales, speaks for itself.
He described the decision as a betrayal of both farmers and taxpayers.
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