DEFRA has rejected claims that it is compromising public and wildlife health by making 19 redundancies at its Wildlife Unit.
The staff affected had been employed as field operatives in the Randomised Badger Culling Trial, employed to trap and humanely dispatch badgers in the trial areas.
Recently, a number had also carried out wild bird collection as part of DEFRA’s surveillance work for avian flu. The Public and Commercial Services Union had suggested that the loss of these staff would jeopardise efforts to monitor for the disease.
Helen Ghosh, DEFRA permanent secretary, said: “We have worked hard to try to redeploy the staff involved and offered them substantial voluntary redundancy packages.
“However, no other jobs could be found to match the skills of the staff concerned in the locations in which they were prepared to work. In those circumstances, we have no alternative but to issue compulsory redundancy notices.”