New badger cull board to decide pilot areas

A NEW partnership board comprising Defra, Natural England, the NFU and the police will decide where the planned pilot badger culls take place this year.

A decision is expected to be made in the early part of this year to give the two areas, and a possible reserve, sufficient time to prepare.

NFU president Peter Kendall revealed before Christmas that other areas will be considered alongside West Gloucestershire and West Somerset, which were designated for pilot culls last year. Even though the pilots were postponed in the autumn, these two areas’ provisional licences remain valid.

However, concerns over the Gloucestershire area in particular, including the level of participation and issues with policing, have prompted the NFU to look for a reserve area. A number of groups of farmers in TB hotspot areas, including in the South West and the Midlands, have put themselves forward as possible alternatives.

Defra Secretary Owen Paterson told the Oxford Farming Conference last week that the pilots ‘will go ahead this summer’ and announced the ‘project board’ to oversee their delivery. “We are all committed to working together in partnership to ensure that the culls go ahead and to establishing a sustainable model for future deployment,” he said.

While the NFU will have the biggest say in which two areas plus a possible reserve go forward, the new board will formally make the recommendations to Ministers.

The pilot culls could start as soon as June 1, although the need to ensure the chosen areas have time to prepare and are culling at the most appropriate time of year mean the policy could start later in the summer or even early autumn.  

Mr Kendall insisted the debate over the location of the pilots was ‘absolutely not’ a sign that it could be a struggle to get two areas up and running this year.

“If we had gone ahead with just two areas and got to June 1and something unexpected had happened, in Gloucestershire for example, that would have been negligent,” he said.

“It is about getting the right areas at the right time. The timing is not going to be dictated by the political calendar, it has got to be dictated by the right time for the area concerned.”

Farming Minister David Heath said in a television interview last week that Defra will ‘wait to hear from the NFU and the farmers involved as to whether they want to stick to their original plans or want to change them – that’s their decision’.

Readers' comments (168)

  • Another waste of tax payers the last planning to cull cost us over 1million pounds,which by now would have vaccinated thousands of badgers.Stop the slaughter!!

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  • No matter wherever or whenever they WILL be opposed. More tax payers money wasted on stupid panels. We could have been using the money wasted on this cull to vaccinate badgers.

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    I assume that you know the license for using BCG on badgers is only regarding the fact that it won't actually harm them, and nothing to do with its possible efficacy?

    For personal reasons I looked up "Tuberculosis+infectious cancer"

    Perhaps some of you who feel it is fine for TB infected and infectious badgers to be kept alive should do similarly - I hope it knocks some sense into your skulls.

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  • If it would be negligent not to have a reserve this year, how come it wasn't negligent last year? And does this mean Glos and Som are not the 'best' areas for a trial - which is what we were told last year? So, another £850,000 on counting different badgers; another £80,000+ on police preparatory work, and so on. These are the acts of madmen

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  • Not one scientist outside of the government supports a cull.
    The general public are totally opposed to a cull.
    A debate in parliament voted by 147 to 28 against a cull.
    There is no logical or scientific basis for a cull.
    Why are the government and the NFU so deluded in this matter? It wont work and will alienate the farmers involved

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  • Alarm bells !! DEFRA, police costs, participating Farmers, public opinion,divided scientific opinion, new reserve areas, funding for cull, training for those culling - can see 101 reasons for another delay. Meanwhile we slaughter thousands of cattle and don't seem to have a viable alternative to improve health of the badger population. Someone in authority get a grip and show some leadership. Indecision is the worst case scenario.

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  • Badger vaccination has been shown to work and at least it is a proactive response to the problem whereas all the NFU can come up with is killing badgers.
    Absolutely pathetic. The public will back badger vaccination but not badger extermination so farmers had better wake up or they will lose out in the long run.

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  • Vaccinate not exterminate!!!!
    The Welsh government is vaccinating badgers as are RSPB, National Trust, many wildlife trusts and a few enlightened farmers. When are the NFU going to realise that a cull is not wanted and concentrate on vaccination of badgers and getting the cattle vaccine ratified.
    Delusion and tunnel vision iare rife amongst Defra and NFU.

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  • No time is right. No area is right. Rumour has it that Cornwall is one area that could be in the firing line. We have had severe flooding - if a cull is called as well - no tourists. End of Cornwall - end of local produce - end of what was a beutiful county. No doubt other counties can also put up valid arguments against this massacre. This government plus the pro-cull farmers are about to kill the country that once was great. It won't be TB or bTB that will sound the death knell, it will be a badger cull.

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  • Norma Kearton | 10 January 2013 11:01 am

    I think your getting a tad excieted and are exagerating markedly. The tourism of any county will absolutely not be affected by any badger cull nor will it cause the country to slip into the sea as your comment suggests. The "general" publc will not be up in arms about any badger cull that goes ahead mainly because they much more important things to think about like keeping/ getting a job, feeding their familes (food banks still inundated), affording heating etc. The cull is absolutely right, is essential and has been overdue for many years but for the protestations of the anti farming anti meat horde who are being exposed for the extremist and dogmatic terrorists that they are!

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