Updated: The extended badger cull has been called off after Natural England revoked licence over failure to meet greatly reduced targets (November 28). Experts say that the failed cull may have increased TB risk for cattle.
A new challenge was filed yesterday to the badger cull extension presently under way in the South West of England.
An eight week extension to the Gloucestershire pilot cull was granted by Natural England after the initial trial period failed to reach its 70% target, and began on 23 October. Brian May’s Save Me organisation, represented by John Cooper QC, has put in an “exceptionally urgent” application for judicial review of the extension of the licence for the cull in Gloucestershire. The Secretary of State For Environment Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA, and Natural England are named as defendants. Other interested parties are the National Farmers Union and the Badger Trust.
According to the Save Me organisation, the call for an urgent review is based on the reasoning that with the Gloucestershire extension already operative, and unless this is urgently addressed the period of the extension might elapse before a formal review can be applied.
The action will challenge the granting of the approval by Natural England against the recommendation of its own Scientific Advisor, Professor David Macdonald, Head of Natural England Scientific Committee. He stated according to Minutes that the view that killing more badgers would lead to better disease control was “not easily reconciled with the evidence” (see my post on the lack of response to Macdonald’s advice).
The Organisation alleges that the decision by Natural England was made without taking reference to the Independent Experts Assessment, therefore that the decision making process which resulted in the culling period extension was flawed. It was unreasonable in that NE and DEFRA had failed to apply the scrutiny required of them, and had failed to carry out an appropriate consultation. Jonathan Cooper QC is quoted on the organisation’s website as saying
From the material I have seen already, it is clear that appropriate procedures have not been taken in relation to this action, which will inevitably lead to the destruction of more wildlife if the Government remains unchallenged.
In all the circumstances and for the grounds we have set out, we assert that the decisions made by DEFRA, the Secretary of State and Natural England, separately and or cumulatively were unreasonable and should be immediately revoked.
For an excellent and balanced account of the cull and our relationship with Britain’s last remaining large carnivore, read Patrick Barkham’s Badgerlands, Granta 2013
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- All about killing badgers – David Hart
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- Is the planet our neighbour in law?
- National Trust to begin badger vaccination trial
- Shooting badgers to be legal under proposals for a “big society cull”