Government challenged on badger cull
DEFRA and Natural England will face two challenges in the High Court this July over the extension of badger culls, part of the Government’s 25-year plan to wipe out bovine TB, which has such a devastating effect on farmers. The challenges have been financed through crowdfunding and are supported by the Badger Trust, the Born Free Foundation and other groups. One refers to Somerset and Gloucestershire in 2016–17 and questions the way Natural England’s consultation was carried out; the other claims that the tests to ascertain the effects of culling more than 70% of the badger population in five of 11 areas granted licences in 2017 were not done properly.
‘This is not really anything to do with TB, it’s really to do with how Natural England and Defra have handled the consultations,’ explains Tom Langton, who is leading the legal action. ‘It’s about getting proper safeguards for the environment and making sure that the right decisions are made. We don’t believe Natural England has gone through this whole process properly.’
‘Bovine TB is one of the greatest animal health threats in the UK,’ comments a Defra spokesperson. ‘There’s no single measure that will provide an easy answer. That is why we are pursuing a wide range of interventions, including cattle movement controls and a cull of badgers in areas where disease is rife.’