Ju­di­cial re­views on badger culling thrown out

Culling to go ahead as The Badger Crowd’s chal­lenges fail to win over High Court judge.

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Wild News -

Cam­paign­ers have failed to force the Govern­ment to re­think its ap­proach to badger culling, af­ter two ju­di­cial re­views were turned down by the High Court. En­vi­ron­men­tal con­sul­tant Tom Lang­ton ( be­low), backed by The Badger Crowd, chal­lenged the Depart­ment for En­vi­ron­ment, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs (De­fra) over sup­ple­men­tary culling, and Nat­u­ral Eng­land over how it con­sid­ered the im­pacts on other species when grant­ing li­cences.

De­spite not al­low­ing ei­ther chal­lenge to suc­ceed, the judge Sir Ross Cranston found that Nat­u­ral Eng­land had breached Euro­pean leg­is­la­tion by fail­ing to con­sider the in­di­rect im­pacts of badger culling on pro­tected ar­eas and their wildlife. But he ac­cepted Nat­u­ral Eng­land’s ar­gu­ment that – even had it car­ried out the Habi­tats Reg­u­la­tions As­sess­ments (HRAs) cor­rectly – culling would have gone ahead.

Do­minic Wood­field, an en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sul­tant who pro­vided tes­ti­mony to sup­port the case against Nat­u­ral Eng­land, has writ­ten that the fail­ure of the chal­lenges “sends an alarm­ing sig­nal to govern­ment agen­cies that they can act with im­punity, even when they are ‘found out’”. While en­vi­ron­men­tal lawyer Carol Day be­lieves Ju­di­cial Re­views are not an ad­e­quate mech­a­nism for cases of this na­ture. “Judges of­ten don’t want to go beyond pro­ce­dural is­sues into the mer­its of the ar­gu­ment.”

The fail­ure of the chal­lenges means culling has ex­panded to 32 zones in 2018. An es­ti­mated 42,000 bad­gers were due to be shot from Septem­ber. Lang­ton is tak­ing his case to the Court of Ap­peal. He told BBC Wildlife that Nat­u­ral Eng­land has now changed the way it car­ries out HRAs to li­cense culling. “It ar­guably mis­led the judge in not dis­clos­ing they were in the process of amend­ing their pro­ce­dures to deal with ex­actly the flaws we had iden­ti­fied.”

In a state­ment given to BBC Wildlife, De­fra says: “De­spite some is­sues with the Habi­tats Reg­u­la­tions As­sess­ment process, the court found that Nat­u­ral Eng­land acted ap­pro­pri­ately in the grant­ing of the li­cences as, based on the ev­i­dence pre­sented, it would have con­cluded that the grant­ing of the li­cences would not have an ad­verse ef­fect on the sites in ques­tion.” JF

FIND OUT MORE

Bovine TB: au­tho­ri­sa­tion for badger con­trol in 2018: https://bit.ly/2xSg0f8

Cam­paign­ers, in­clud­ing Tom Lang­don ( be­low), have lost a High Court bat­tle to limit the badger cull.

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