TAKE A FRESH LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE, BADGER TRUST ASKS NEW WELSH GOVERNMENT

The Badger Trust is calling on the Welsh Assembly Government to reconsider the Order made by the previous administration to kill badgers as part of a programme to control bovine tuberculosis (bTB). The Trust’s solicitors have been instructed to seek the views of members of the new Government in Wales including newly appointed Minister for the Environment, John Griffiths. The Trust has also asked for an urgent reply because if there were not to be a pause, at the very least, in the killing programme, it would need to proceed with legal action next week.
 
In a letter to Carwyn Jones, the First Minister, the Trust has written: “We are … writing to ask whether it is your intention to revoke the Order so that you have the opportunity to review the current position”. The Trust has also asked to meet Mr Jones to discuss whether a legal challenge to the Order would be necessary. The letter adds: “In our opinion it would be preferable to work with your Government to discuss alternative methods of controlling bovine TB”.
 
Before the recent election the solicitors acting for Badger Trust wrote to the Welsh Assembly Government Legal Services Department setting out its intention to issue judicial review proceedings to challenge the Order in the absence of confirmation that it would be revoked. The Badger Trust’s earlier challenge to a previous bTB eradication Order was successful and badger culling was abandoned.
 
Pat Hayden, vice chairman of the Trust, says: “It is our sincere belief that the [latest] Order was based on serious errors of science and law. If the proposed cull were permitted it would have no significant impact on the control of bTB in the Intensive Action Area. In fact the improved testing and cattle controls that have already been implemented in Wales are showing improvements without a single badger having been killed.
 
If the previous Welsh Assembly Government had remained in power we would not have hesitated to proceed because Ministers had indicated the cull would begin after May 31st – although they refuse to confirm the start date. However, Labour’s election manifesto has promised ‘a science-led approach to evaluate and review the best way of tackling bTB’”.
 
The Trust says proposals laid down in the Order are extremely expensive, and the threat of a cull is already having a detrimental effect on rural communities and those who depend on tourism in the Intensive Action Area of Pembrokeshire. The forced imposition of a cull also raises serious human rights issues in relation to landowners’ peaceful enjoyment of property and right to respect for private life and home. According to WAG’s own figures in the annexes to its public consultation the cull would cost far more than it could save. The Trust is aware, from unsolicited input, that it is likely to be very damaging to the Welsh economy in terms not only of tourism but of people threatening to boycott Welsh products.
 
In the meantime an injectable vaccine is available and already in use in a TB hotspot area of Gloucestershire. No one doubts that vaccination works. It will shortly be used by the National Trust on one of its large estates in Devon.  The Badger Trust are currently investigating the possibility of having members of its Groups trained and licensed as vaccinators in order that they can assist in extending the vaccination programme.

This statement was released by the Badger Trust on Friday 13th May to Press, MPs, Lords, Welsh AMs, Badger groups and contacts, Non Affiliated groups, Supporters, Wildlife Organisations and other organisations.

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