Has WAG considered all the facts and cost implications with regards to the North Pembrokeshire Badger Cull?
1 Jun 2010, 1:33 PM
Mike Snow is also concerned regarding the costs of badger culling. His letter (reproduced below with his permission) makes some very important points. He sent the letter to: Elin Jones, (Minister of Rural Affairs), Dr Christianne Glossop (Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales) with copies to Peter Black, Lorraine Barrett, Alun Ffred Jones (Minister of Heritage) the Auditor General, NFU and FUW, and Pembrokeshire against the Cull.
'The Hon. Mr Justice Lloyd Jones has found in favour of the Welsh Ministers on all four counts in the recent Judicial Review. However, the substance of his judgement, now in the public domain, raises serious issues that warrant review and public debate.
It is clear in the judgement that the Minister of Rural Affairs was not aware of the most recent available science when she made her decision to proceed with the cull. It is equally clear to the public that the scientific data not taken into account influences the analysis of cost-effectiveness in an unknown way.
In the judgement, paragraph 14 makes it abundantly clear that it is ‘for Welsh Ministers, acting within their powers and on the basis of expert scientific advice, to decide the appropriate course of action. Although in paras 51 – 59 the judge seeks to evaluate the disregarded science he has previously stated that this is not his job, but that of Welsh Ministers. As constitutionally the Ministers are supposed to reflect the debated feeling of the elected house they represent, not the views of a judge, this matter must be put to that house.
There will be an impact on the cost analysis for the cull, particularly in the light of the reduced benefits of the cull admitted in the hearing. When costs are discussed the various other omissions must be taken into account also. As a matter of record or on the Ministers own admissions elsewhere there has been:
- no assessment of the impact of the cull on tourism;
- there has been no debate let alone decision on what levels of compensation should be paid because of loss of earnings in that sector;
- no account was taken of increased policing costs and there is already in place a extra team of four officers in Crymych;
I would further suggest that because of the shortcomings inherent in the consultation process and the inflammatory way in which it was conducted there has been:
- inadequate account taken of the administrative costs of informing residents in the IAPA of what is happening, what their rights are etc;
- an underestimate of the man-power costs of carrying out surveys etc.
During the discussion on costs Ministers should be aware that the computer modelling of the cull is flawed and produces enhanced beneficial outcomes. The analysis leading to that conclusion is reproduced below.'
Concerns with the modelling process.
1. The badger ecology data used are based upon the population at Woodchester Park. This is acknowledged as an extraordinary population, exhibiting far greater density and much larger family group sizes than any other studied (Carpenter PJ et al; Mol. Ecol. 14, 273-284, 2005). 2. Reviewed data from 18 studies (Johnson DDP; Mammal Rev. 30, 171-196, 2000: Northern Ireland Badger Survey 2007 by Quercus & CSL) indicate average family size between 4 and 6 with population density of about 5 per sq km in favourable circumstances; average territory size is about 0.75 sq km. The WAG model presumes a family size of 7.5 and a territory size (ranging area) of 1.3 sq km. 3. The model presumes distribution of bTB infection is random, with 1.3 badgers per group carrying the disease. We know this to be untrue; bTB in badgers is clustered, with many groups infection free (Delahay RJ et al; J.anim. ecol. 69, 428-441 2000). 4. In modelling perturbation, badgers are only permitted to move into nearby territories that contain few or no badgers. This is unrealistic, as under stress badgers will seek to move anywhere to escape. It is this fact that provokes fighting, increases infection chances and results in elevated levels of TB in the surviving badgers. The model underestimates the perturbation effect as a result. 5. The spatial settings in the model are questionable. WAG (2008) Agricultural Statistics list 3578 holdings in Pembrokeshire, of which 1335 have cattle. If randomly distributed in the county then in the IAPA (288 sq km, 18% of the county) there would be 650 holdings, 240 with cattle. The model sets 917 holdings and assumes all have cattle. Why does the model use these figures? (At the Cattle Owners Briefing it was announced that there are 368 cattle owners in the area). 6. The settings for Infection Transmission Probabilities are questionable. The model is set up to achieve a disease prevalence in badgers of 18% and a confirmed herd breakdown rate of 8%. The WAG statistics indicate badger infection levels of below 15% and CHB as about 5%. The badger-to-badger infection rate is set at 0.021, whereas cow-to-cow transmission is 0.0071. Is it really credible that bTB is three times more infectious among badgers than cattle? DEFRA statistics, on nearly 20,000 badgers show a steady state level of bTB infection in badgers of 4.5% nationwide and 1.8% in Dyfed between 1972 and 1998 – these figures suggest a very low badger-to-badger infection rate. In the light of these considerations I believe the WAG modelling presents a speciously attractive outcome for a cull.
7 Apr 2011, 6:53 PM
BOVINE TB The following letter, by Professor Paul Torgerson, was published on page 540 of the Veterinary Record (http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/167/14/540.2.full.html) on October 2, 2010 regarding the cost-effectiveness of bovine TB control.
The major justifications of bovine tuberculosis (TB) control in the UK include protection of public health, protection of animal health and welfare, and reduction of the economic impact of bovine TB (Defra 2005). However, the elimination of bovine TB from the UK has proved elusive and the means of bovine TB control in the UK have been hotly debated. The latest government initiative will allow farmers to cull badgers despite the fact that badger culling is unlikely to be effective at controlling bovine TB (Donnelly and others 2006).
Investment in animal health and veterinary public health should be evidence-based. In a recent extensive review, Torgerson and Torgerson (2010) questioned the need for bovine TB control in its present form. We concluded that the threat to public health is negligible provided that milk continues to be pasteurised, as human infection with Mycobacterium bovis is primarily a foodborne disease. It was also clear that aerosol transmission from cattle to humans is extremely rare even when bovine TB is very common in cattle. We concluded that the present bovine TB programme is an extremely poor cost-effective measure in terms of public health protection, with perhaps over £3 million spent per disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) averted. In addition, it appears that the economic consequences to the livestock industry and taxpayer are largely expensive intervention costs, not direct disease costs. Very little evidence has been reported of direct animal health costs, which are needed to justify the benefits of this elimination programme in terms of agricultural economics.
Large investments in animal or public health could be more effectively targeted against other zoonotic diseases. For example, in the Netherlands, congenital toxoplasmosis results in approximately 2300 DALYs lost per annum (Kortbeek and others 2009). This suggests that, the burden of congenital toxoplasmosis in the UK could also be considerable. Much of this disease could be prevented by implementing a testing programme in the food chain and any meat from Toxoplasma-positive animals could be frozen, which effectively destroys the bradyzoites (Kijlstra and Jongert 2009).
The World Health Organization is undertaking a study of the global burden of foodborne disease (Stein and others 2007), which will indicate priority areas for resource allocation to control such diseases. Presently, the global burden of human tuberculosis caused by M bovis is unknown, but in the UK the burden is extremely low. Human bovine TB in the UK is unlikely to increase beyond a very small handful of cases provided that milk is pasteurized before consumption. And this is regardless of the numbers of infected bovids or badgers blighting the British countryside.
The UK Government, Defra and the veterinary profession frequently hide behind EU legislation as a justification for bovine TB control in its present form. However, derogations from EC legislation can be sought (for example, to allow cattle vaccination) and resources could be diverted into more rewarding areas of public health. Elimination of bovine TB in the UK using current measures is proving intractable, expensive and of negligible benefit to society. P. R. Torgerson, Division of Epidemiology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurestrasse 260, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland e-mail: email@example.com
References DEFRA (2005) Government Strategic Framework for the Sustainable Control of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) in Great Britain. A sub-strategy of the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy for Great Britain. Defra
Publications DONNELLY, C. A., WOODROFFE, R., COX, D. R., BOURNE, F. J., CHEESEMAN, C. L., CLIFTON- HADLEY, R. S. & OTHERS (2006) Positive and negative effects of widespread badger culling on tuberculosis in cattle. Nature 439, 843-846 KIJLSTRA, A. & JONGERT, E. (2009) Toxoplasma-safe meat: close to reality? Trends in Parasitology 25, 18-22 KORTBEEK, L. M., HOFHUIS, A., NIJHUIS, C. D. M. & HAVELAAR, A. H. (2009) Congenital toxoplasmosis and DALYs in the Netherlands. Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz 104, 370-373 STEIN, C., KUCHENMÜLLER, T., HENDRICKX, S., PRÜSS-USTÜN, A., WOLFSON, L., ENGELS, D. & SCHLUNDT, J. (2007) The global burden of disease assessments – WHO is responsible? PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 1, e161 TORGERSON, P. R. & TORGERSON, D. J. (2010) Public health and bovine TB: what’s all the fuss about? Trends in Microbiology 18, 67-72 doi: 10.1136/vr.c5372
25 Mar 2011, 6:58 PM
According to local media reports Rhys Sinnett, the Plaid Cymru National Assembly Candidate in Preseli Pembrokeshire, is urging Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones to reconsider aspects of the proposed Badger Control Order to ensure that landowners within the area designated for the pilot cull have an option to opt out of the scheme should they so wish.
This sounds a very sensible suggestion but our experience of the WAG and AMs/officials responsible for bTB policy has shown that they do not make compromises.
25 Mar 2011, 6:39 PM
On Tuesday 22nd March 2011 I attended the screening of "Pembrokeshire against the cull", a presentation and short film on why culling badgers is a really bad idea. It was screened at The Welsh Assembly Media Briefing Room, Cardiff, the day before the debate of the motion that had been put forward to annul WAG's 'Badger (Control Area) (Wales) Order 2011'. The event was sponsored by Lorraine Barrett AM and all AMs and the press had been invited.
It was a very successful event and a thought provoking film put together by the anti-cull organisation, Pembrokeshire Against the Cull (PAC). Watch the DVD at www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpFCJJikbxI The film outlines some of the key arguments against culling badgers and the views and experiences of local farmers and countryside dwellers who oppose the cull - including footage of forced entry onto land by WAG officials and police during the set surveys last year. PAC is a group of landowners, farmers and residents living in the proposed badger cull area. They oppose killing badgers because scientific trials have shown that it is unlikely to help. They say that badger populations would need to be decimated over many years and over huge areas, with perhaps a very small bTB reduction in the immediate cull area, but an increased incidence on neighbouring farms. PAC members feel very strongly about the issue and several attended the film launch, coming to Cardiff in their own time and at their own expense. Many of its members work tirelessly to bring this issue to the attention of local people and campaign for change.
The only AMs I saw at the event were Lorraine Barrett and Peter Black, although there were some researchers present representing other anti-cull AMs. No pro cull assembly members attended, which was somewhat disturbing bearing in mind the massive public interest and overwhelming opposition to the cull as indicated from WAG's recent consultation. Of some 13,400 responses received, only 2110 were for the cull - but the results of the consultation exercise seem to have been ignored. CDs of the film were made available to all AMs so it is hoped that they found the time to watch the film at some point.
PAC continue to grow as more people become aware of the implications of the order. The dedication of PAC members is beyond doubt and they deserve to be listened to. The commitment is demonstrated in the huge numbers of hours this group puts in and all they do is at their own cost. This was made clear to me as I travelled up with two of them for the film launch. They left home (just outside Cardigan) by car at just after 6am to catch the train for Cardiff at Carmarthenshire. At Swansea the train could not go on as there were signal failures so they returned to Carmarthen and drove to Cardiff, still managing to arrive in good time for the event. They were also planning to go to the debate the following day.
At the film launch Lorraine Barrett made the initial introductions, saying that if the motion was defeated the Order would come into effect on 31 March 2011 but nothing was likely to happen until after the May elections. She said that PAC were an amazing group and they must continue with their work.
Celia Thomas, Chair of PAC spoke next. She thanked Lorraine for giving them the opportunity to launch the film at the Senedd building. She referred to the constant re-jigging of figures and costs by WAG to suit their case. She referred to the results of the consultation and the fact that the promised DVD of full responses was still not available from WAG, despite the motion being debated the following day. She stressed how the Order has no time limit and so could blight the lives of those in the area indefinitely, with serious human right implications. The Order would also prevent peaceful demonstration, permanently suppress free speech on the subject and was already splitting communities and discouraging visitors. The IAA was being treated differently from all other areas of Wales. The new Order even included the option to free shoot badgers, which was of concern to many.
Despite the successful appeal last year by the Badger Trust which halted WAG's plans for a trial badger cull, the Minister for Rural Affairs (Elin Jones) created the 'Badger (Control Area) (Wales) Order 2011' order which again proposes a similar cull in North Pembrokeshire. The following day the motion to annul this order was defeated - 8 votes for and 42 against, with no abstentions. I watched it live and was shocked at the arrogant and downright rude behaviour of some of the pro cull AMs. It was also interesting to see how little attention some seemed to pay to the speakers, particularly when those for the motion were speaking. I totally agree with the following extract from a PAC newsletter; 'One notable moment in the proceedings - for all the wrong reasons - was a boorish intervention from Rhodri Glyn Thomas. Irene James AM said that she had received more letters on this subject from more people in a short time than ever before - to which he shouted 'Not from Wales!' She put him straight - telling him they most definitely were from Wales, and from people living in the area. As people have since written to us - how arrogant and dismissive of the public some of these AMs are. Awards for most disingenuous statement goes to the several pro culling AMs who asserted that we must cull badgers in order to protect and safeguard our wildlife! And what of the Assembly Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, Paul Davies? He sat silent throughout - not an utterance. What are we to conclude from that? Our elected representative doesn't participate in a debate specific to his constituency on the most controversial topic and policy which will impact hugely on local people? Has he nothing to say on anyone's behalf?'
Of significant note was a rather premature letter from Christiane Glossop, WAH's Chief Vet which was published in the local media in advance of both the debate and vote on the motion to annul, and the date on which the Order will come into force. Her letter set out her next steps for the cull saying she will be writing to all landowners in the IAA. More arrogance and wholly unreasonable, pre-empting the outcome!
Also of note was that immediately after the debate the next item was consideration of the biodiversity action for Wales with the news that targets were not being met.
18 Feb 2011, 6:48 PM
TB in cattle is not the number one problem in Dyfed.
I have calculated that for every thousand cattle tested for TB in Dyfed in 2010 less than five were found to have TB. However, for every thousand dairy cows in Dyfed in the same year about 250 were slaughtered for various reasons such as calving injury, infertility, lameness, mastitis accident, etc.etc. On a chart I produced showing the various reasons why a cow may be slaughtered there is a column 'other'. This refers to cattle where the farmer declined to give the cause of death/disappearance of that animal.
10 Feb 2011, 7:27 PM
Cannot do the impossible
When will Elin Jones understand that it is not possible to eradicate Bovine TB. Indeed it not even necessary. She appears to be a Canute like figure being urged by her adviser, The Chief Vet, that she can do the impossible. Small pox in 1979 and Rinderpest in 2010 are the only diseases that we have ever successfully eradicated and this was achieved using vaccination and took hundreds of years.
What our farmers really want is to obtain Official TB Free status for Wales. This can be achieved by extending the best practice in cattle controls and biosecurity measures in all areas of Wales where Btb is a problem and if necessary vaccinating badgers and when available vaccinating cattle. Killing badgers in one small area of Wales for 5 years at a cost of £6m is a complete waste of money.
New Zealand, whose Btb policy is often quoted by WAG to support its own plans, expect to achieve Official TB free status in 2013 without making any real impact on its Btb wildlife reservoir, the possum. Scotland has obtained TB free status without killing any badgers.
Its time for a change of policy to one which is both desirable and achievable. Perhaps the only way is to have a change of Minister.
9 Nov 2010, 5:58 PM
Interesting post from Celia Thomas at www.meattradenewsdaily.co.uk/news/081110/wales___response_to_iain_mccarthy_on_wales_badger_cull_.aspx
I would like to point out the economics of the Welsh Cull.
Within the IAA area £12.9 million has been paid out in compensation since 2004. Using the best figures given, Elin Jones hopes to achieve a reduction of 28% this includes culling (22%) and apparently a further reduction due to the cattle measures now in place. 28% of £12.9 is £3.64 million. The cost of the cull without policing is set at £9 million. Good house keeping Elin! For a cull we don't want and regulations that could blight the area for an unlimited time!
29 Aug 2010, 3:08 PM
Interesting post on the Pembrokeshire Against the Cull website (www.badgerall.com/blog/north-pembs-throws-open-its-gates) which reveals how ordinary local people have been affected by the bTB programme. This is what cattle owners have to live with, particularly when there has been a herd breakdown. Hopefully now that more people, other than just the farming community, are now affected by this outdated policy change will be forthcoming and vaccination for cattle will be introduced as a matter of urgency.
North Pembs throws open its gates Wed July 21 2010 | 1 Comment There’s a recurring theme in chats amongst local people – ‘and we can leave the gate open again now!’. You can feel the relief as they say it. When Elin Jones begrudgingly announced she would suspend the badger cull until after the Appeal Court ruling and we were able to go about our daily lives without the continual uncertainty and fear brought about by WAG’s cull preparations people began to realise just how far out of whack the cull had pushed individuals and the local community. It is hard to put across just how stressful and distressing it is to live with constant anxiety over who may be about to appear in your garden, on your track, at your door or window – and what they may be about to say and do – will they be carrying traps, guns, or the corpses of badgers and other wildlife. All notion of being able to reasonably ensure the security and safety of yourself, your family, domestic animals, wildlife, neighbours and neighbourhood – was stripped away by the WAG’s refusal to provide basic information, reassurance and notice to landowners. Immediately after the Appeal Court ruling that the Welsh Assembly TB Order was unlawful and was quashed – I rang my close neighbour, a stout-hearted widow of 75 who lives on her own. She said ‘thank you for giving me my life back’. Half an hour later I passed by her house and the gate was unlocked and wide open for the first time in months. One Response to “North Pembs throws open its gates Anne // Aug 1, 2010 at 11:15 pm I agree. It is as if the sun has come out again after a storm. Lets hope that positive changes will come about as a result of this upheaval. There is a way for everyone to be winners.
21 Aug 2010, 8:00 PM
Welsh Assembly Legal Costs and Contract Information
The Welsh Assembly Government website has now published some information about the costs of the judicial review and appeal. The total external legal costs are quoted at £57,446.65. For internal costs it refers to a previous disclosure log in response to Freedom of Information request which gives an estimate of the TB Team's staff and non-staff costs for a complete year as £662,693.
It also contains a link to the site that publishes details of the contracts tendered and awarded 'to deliver a series of functions associated with wildlife control in north Pembrokeshire for the purpose of dealing with and eradicating of bTB in the area'... (our highlighting). It gives an estimated final total value of the contracts as GBP 6723226 excluding VAT. The contracts were awarded in 5 lots - 1. Training related to trapping services for lots 2-4; 2. Surveying and mapping; 3. Containment and dispatch; 4. Disposal; 5. Population assessment; 6. Audit and evaluation. Rather chillingly Lot 3. Containment and dispatch received by far the highest number of tenders (9) - whilst Lot 6. Audit and evaluation received none.
1 Jul 2010, 5:37 PM
How much are the current court proceedings going to cost the taxpayer? The appeal is being brought by the Badger Trust against the rejection of a judicial review in April of the decision to cull and is based on two points of much wider legal importance:
What is the correct statutory construction of the term 'eliminate or substantially reduce' disease as apparently required under legislation to justify the killing of large numbers of wild species; and
Whether the scale of the killing should be balanced against the expected benefit.
The appeal was heard on 30th June 2010 in Cardiff before Lord Justice Pill, Lady Justice Smith and Lord Justice Stanley. At the start of the day, there were two grounds of appeal by the Badger Trust to be considered. These were that the judge erred in law in holding:
1) That 'substantially reduce' in section 21 (2) (b) of the Animal Health Act 1981 meant simply a reduction that was 'more than merely minor or trivial' 2) That, once it arose, the discretion to make an order under section 21(2) could lawfully be exercised without considering the balance between the extent of the benefit in disease terms and the extent of the killing of wild animals required to achieve it. The following report is extracted from the newsletter published by Pembrokeshire Against the Cull (www.pembrokeshireagainstthecull.co.uk) on 1 July 2010.
'It wasn’t long before astute questioning and reasoning by the judges raised a major anomaly that they suggested could give rise to an application by the Badger Trust for a third ground of appeal! They saw that the Welsh Assembly Government has passed an Order which applies to the whole of Wales and is unlimited in time whereas the consultation and decision to cull, and evidence provided in support of them, was based on an intensive action pilot area (IAPA) of approx 300 square kilometres. With such an Order in place there will be no requirement to justify or consult on any further decisions taken to kill badgers, whether in a target area or across Wales as a whole. The judges were refreshingly direct in their approach and language – one of them pointing out that in effect the Order (which is only secondary legislation) permits the extinction of the badger in Wales and is unlimited in time. If this is set as a precedent in law, it could lead to the extinction of badgers in the UK.
One of the difficulties in dealing with grounds 1 and 2 was that the information the Minister based her decision on sometimes referred to 'an IAPA' and sometimes to all of Wales, and sometimes it was not clear which. For example, when the Order was drafted and passed was the expectation that there would be a 6 – 9% reduction in the rate of increase in bovine TB across Wales, or just within a defined pilot area?
So later in the day, David Wolfe, counsel for the Badger Trust, made an application for a third ground of appeal that 'the Minister erred in law in making an Order for all of Wales having consulted on the basis of an IAPA and on the basis of evidence which at most supported culling in an IAPA'. Mr Corner, counsel for the Welsh Ministers, argued that this should not be allowed as it had not been a specific ground in the judicial review – but said if it were to be allowed, and he could see the judges were minded to do so, he would need more time to prepare evidence. He asked for an additional two weeks. The judges asked what further evidence there could be as surely they already had before them all the evidence relating to the preparation of the Order and the Minister’s decision to cull. They pointed out that the Welsh Assembly had asked for an expedited hearing because they had said they must start culling as soon as possible – and the court had adjusted its schedule to enable a swift ruling. There was then a pantomime-like exchange with the judges asking the most simple and basic of questions such as, ‘are you ready to start culling?’, ‘what is your start date?’, ‘do you have a map of the cull area?’ – counsel repeatedly turning round to whisper with Dr Glossop and then being unable to provide an answer! One judge in an attempt to get some information asked in the most direct, and graphic, way possible if they actually had their traps and ammunition ready.
There were no real surprises in the arguments around the meaning of the term “substantially reduce” – with the Welsh Assembly still contending that it should be taken to mean anything more than trivial or insignificant. The arguments about the need to conduct a balancing exercise between the harm to badgers and the benefit to cows (in this particular instance) were more revealing, and very pertinent in the light of the third ground of appeal. Is it enough to ‘take into account’ the fact that many, many badgers will be killed when deciding on this course of action, without conducting any actual balancing exercise which includes some quantification of the numbers of badgers to be killed or harmed and related disbenefits against the number of cows to be saved and related benefits? Counsel for the Welsh Assembly did not produce any evidence that such an exercise had been carried out, nor that the number of badgers potentially affected by the Order had been known and factored into their consideration. But without such a balancing exercise, and with the low threshold for the meaning of ‘substantially reduce’ that WAG wishes to be accepted, it could mean, as one judge pointed out, that just one cow was saved at a cost of exterminating hundreds of badgers.
We left the court at the end of the day with a clear timeline set out by the judges for receiving submissions on the third ground of appeal and for handing down their decision. The Welsh Assembly are required to provide a written submission by the end of next Monday 5 July, the Badger Trust then have two days to respond - and the judges will hand down their decision on the following Monday 12 July in Cardiff.
The lasting impression of the day – the Welsh Assembly are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut – and more and more people are questioning such heavy handed practice, and just where it could lead to in future. The more the Minister’s reasons for deciding to cull badgers are examined in these judicial proceedings, the more unconvincing and lacking any integrity they are revealed to be.'
21 Jun 2010, 9:13 AM
In the latest (20/06/10) Pembrokeshire Against the Cull (PAC) newsletter (www.pembrokeshireagainstthecull.org.uk) there is information about a Scottish Government report - 'The Economic Impact of Wildlife Tourism in Scotland' - published recently (www.wired-gov.net/wg/wg-news-1.nsf/0/90CC1D4950B982C08025774500460AB8?). The report found that wildlife tourism annually brings in a net economic impact of £65 million to Scotland's economy and creates the equivalent of 2,760 full time jobs. PAC says, 'We wish that the Welsh Assembly Government would give the same recognition to the value of wildlife tourism to West Wales. They did not carry out any analysis of the impact of the cull on tourism overall before making their decision - let alone identify the particular importance of wildlife and eco tourism for many businesses and people in North Pembrokeshire and the surrounding areas. PAC welcomes people to get in touch with us if they are involved with tourism and could provide information and views on how the cull is already, or could in the future, affect them'. PAC contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 01239 805020.
Sally hall (Guest)
17 Jun 2010, 6:48 PM
On 19 May 2010, I wrote to Jonathan Edwards, MP Carmarthen East and Dinefwr regarding the heavy handed approach by the police. The responses are reproduced below.
Many thanks for your e mail. I was unaware of the protest or the overt Police presence. I clearly support peaceful protest and would share your concerns in relation to heavy handed law enforcement. If you would like me to make representations to Dyfed Powys Police on your behalf then please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Jonathan Edwards ------- Thank you for your very speedy response Jonathan. If this is the proper course of action then please do make representation to the Dyfed Powys Police as I know others are concerned regarding the action taken. Regards Sally
------- Response to Jonathan Edwards from Nick Ingram, Assistant Chief Constable, Dyfed-Powys Police
Dear Mr Edwards
Thank you for your letter in relation to he police operation at a sett survey site near Newport, Pembrokeshire on Tuesday, 18th May 2010. Tuesday's police operation was put in place to allow the officers of the Welsh Assembly Government to carry out their duties of conducting Sett Surveys, whilst facilitating peaceful assembly and protests in a proportionate and fair manner.
The level of Police response was based on the identified need to assure the above goals were achieved. I can confirm that all Police Officers deployed were frontline officers and not those specially trained to deal with Public Order incidents.
I can assure all members of the public that we will police all events in an impartial manner and our presence is there to keep the peace and maintain law and order in a proportionate and effective manner, I feel this was achieved last Tuesday.
If I can be of any further assistance, please do contact me.
Yours sincerely Nick Ingram Assistant Chief Constable.
16 Jun 2010, 5:58 PM
We were incensed about the heavy handed approach of WAG and wrote to our Assembly Minister. The letter and his reply is below, for information.
Subject: Re: Sett Surveyors/Policing
thank you for your reply and for addressing this issue and speaking to the Minister about it. Although we understand that the concerns of the surveyors are that they do not wish their identities to be revealed in the public domain because they fear the possibility of reprisals from 'animal rights extremists', we think that the concerns of landowners within the IAPA who are not in favour of the cull have not been addressed adequately during the consultation and decision-making process. We understand that cattle keepers occupy a minority of holdings in the IAPA, and not all cattle keepers are in favour of the cull. For example, Gavin Wheeler, who manages his family's dairy farm. Gavin is the gentleman who was arrested for 'theft' last Tuesday, later to be released without charge, merely for attempting to verify the ID of a surveyor from the photocard he was carrying,
These people (including our family) are having the cull imposed upon them against their wishes, which is a very serious infringement of the natural, established right to peaceful enjoyment of one's property. We understand that previous culls, held in other parts of the UK, adopted a voluntary approach and did not cull without landowners' consent. It is this unprecedented element of compulsion that is at the root of the distress that currently is acutely felt by many of your constituents. From our own experience of attending meetings held by Pembrokeshire Against the Cull (an organisation dedicated to lawful protest), we can report that there are hundreds of people in the area who are very concerned at the implications of the approach taken by WAG, and who feel strongly enough to attend open meetings, even though some fear, or have already suffered, reprisals for publicly expressing their opposition to the cull. These people represent the views of countless others in the local community.
We share your hope that we do not see a repeat of masked contractors accompanied by large numbers of police drawn from outside the area, particularly since the additional police constables drafted into Crymych Police Station for the duration of the cull have already established community relations by attending a PAC meeting and introducing themselves to those present. But we think that on consideration, you must agree that the media plays a vital role in our democracy and that landowners have the legal right to document what happens on their land through film or any other form of recording. We understand that publishing material which would identify the contractors has in any case been prohibited, but that does not preclude publishing documentary evidence of events in a way which does not identify the individuals involved. We hope that you will also consider the dichotomy inherent in your concern that the anonymity of the contractors is preserved, when they have been given access to the names, addresses and other personal details of all of your constituents who live on holdings within the area. When the culling begins, these anonymous (possibly masked) contractors have been given the legal right by WAG to enter our land while carrying guns, at any time of the day or night. For many people, particularly the elderly, infirm, people with children and those living alone or in isolated locations, this is a very worrying prospect and is causing ill-health through sleepless nights and anxiety.
Regarding the Assembly's decision to cull, we would be very interested to know whether Assembly Members were in full possession of the facts as they have now emerged, at the time when the vote was taken. For example, were you aware of the full cost of the cull, which we understand has been placed at around £9 million - £10 million, for the anticipated destruction of about 1,500 badgers, which works out at costing tax payers about £6,000 per dead badger? Does the estimated cost account for the additional policing? Before you voted, what figures were you given for expected reduction of bTB infection in cattle as a result of the cull? We understand that during the Badger Trust Judicial Review hearing, it became clear from WAG's evidence that only a 6% to 9% reduction in bTB in cattle is expected, and that for only 2 years following the 5 years of culling, when a much higher disease-reduction rate was initially forecast. Also, what account was taken of the views of those landowners in the area who are not in favour of the cull, and was the impact on those landowners of compulsory inclusion ever considered?
Surely a more integrated approach to bTB control would look at factors directly attributable to the industry, before proceeding with such a drastic and destructive act as eliminating all the badgers from the area. What part has breeding to maximise milk production played in the decreased disease-resistance of dairy herds? We understand that studies have shown that high yielding is genetically associated with susceptibility to bTB. The Dairy Development Council's figures show that lameness, mastitis and mortality have all increased dramatically over the last 50 years, indicating systemic ill-health, which no amount of badger culling will alleviate. Only recently, a slurry spill into the Afon Cych, which forms one boundary of the IAPA, killed 600 salmon and trout. As bTB can survive in slurry for months, incidents like this are clearly a serious breach of biosecurity.
We are aware of the crisis faced by dairy farms in the area, and the cost to the tax payer in compensation, but the badger is not the cause of the problem, it is just a convenient scape-goat. We look forward to your reply to the questions we have raised with interest and we really hope that WAG will reconsider its strategy in the light of all the information and feedback now available.
Lastly, we would like to express our appreciation of your dedication to effective representation of your constituents' concerns.
On 19 May 2010, at 17:28, Davies, Paul (Assembly Member) wrote:
Thank you for contacting my office to voice concerns over the incidents seen in the last 24 hours. As well as my colleague David speaking both to local police and a Welsh Assembly Government official, I have spoken very briefly to the Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones AM to voice concerns.
Even though that you disagree with me on this scheme I want to ensure that matters are progressed with extreme sensitivity and that actions taken are within the law.
The Minister had already been made aware of contractors wearing balaclavas. The Minister has been informed that the contractors took it upon themselves to wear these garments in order to protect their identities from a film crew. However, I hope very much that we do not see a repeat of these events and that film crews do not go around taking advantage of this very sensitive matter.
I want to reassure you that I will continue to closely monitor developments relating to this matter, as it is a very sensitive issue and needs to be handled in an appropriate and lawful manner.
Thank you for contacting me and should I be of any further assistance then please let me know.
Paul Davies AM/AC Preseli Pembrokeshire/Preseli Penfro
15 Jun 2010, 7:37 PM
I was at the meeting last night too and was impressed by the quality of the presentations and the absolute, unwavering commitment of the speakers and the audience. It was a very moving experience to see such a diverse range of people being brought together by a common cause.
I have been to a few of the PAC meetings but this meeting was a corker. It is clear that WAG have really upset a lot of people who are now feeling alienated and in need of finding kindred spirits. They certainly found that yesterday. New friends were made and old friendships were re-kindled.
I am personally disappointed and, dare I say appalled, that this fledgling government has chosen to take on the community in such a head-on and uncaring fashion. It bodes badly for them in the upcoming referendum where they will expect the people of Wales to favour their being gven more powers. They need to learn how to listen before any further powers are devolved to them.
Jerome Flynn of 'Robson and Jerome' fame and many popular TV programmes, such as Soldier, Soldier was at the meeting too. It was a great opportunity to meet a celebrity and Jerome joins the growing band of celebrities and important social characters who have now decided to publicly decry the shameful plans of the Welsh Assembly.
Meet and mingle with the stars, join the campaign against the cull of badgers. www.pembrokeshireagainstthecull.org.uk
15 Jun 2010, 6:51 PM
It is clear that Pembrokeshire Against the Cull (www.pembrokeshireagainstthecull.org.uk) is a highly effective group that is clearly encouraging an increasing number of people to oppose the plans for a compulsory cull of all badgers in Pembrokeshire. The more opposition to the proposals, the greater the costs will be for WAG. On the evening of the 14th June 2010 PAC organised an open meeting to discuss badger vaccination and civil liberties. The room was packed and I estimated there were probably some 400 people present, all of whom seemed to be against the cull.
Presentations were given by Dr Lizzie Wilberforce (Welsh Wildlife Trust), Dr Gavin Harper (PhD in Molecular Physical Chemistry and organic farmer), Dr Adrian Smallwood and Assembly Minister, Peter Black. Lizzie was clearly passionate about our largest remaining carnivore, wildlife in general and conservation. She confirmed that three of the Trust's nature reserves were in the cull area and started by showing a slide of a snared badger which had been left at the entrance of the Trust land. The Trust had stopped its badger watching sessions and there were ponies grazing the reserve rather than the usual buffalo which managed the wetland more effectively. As a result there was a loss of income and the Trust was also having to cope with a significant increase of staff time being taken up in dealing with the cull.
Gavin concentrated on how vaccination works and up to date information about the types of vaccine that were available. The injectable one was now licensed, and the oral option was likley to be available in 2014. He referred to the success of experiments vaccinating possums in New Zealand. He stressed that vaccination was not perfect and did not cure sick badgers but bearing in mind life expectancy, annual vaccination would bring increasing and adequate protection against infection. He advised that in the Badgers Found Dead Survey (2006) only 15% of badgers had been found to be infected with TB. He confirmed that no cost benefit analysis had been taken for the cull. Vaccination was a cheaper, and more publicly acceptable option. The real costs were unknown but all modelling had suggested that culling costs more than it saves.
Adrian concentrated on reports from the Welsh Assembly Government and its officers over the last few years, highlighting the disturbing frequency of contradictions. In fact it was clear that if Assembly Ministers (AMs) had read all the documents referred to, it was difficult to understand why the majority had opted for a cull. This questions was asked.
Peter commenced by answering the previous question. It had been a political decision. He explained that the democratic process meant that ministers would listen to the concerns of constituents. As a result of frequent and intense lobbying from farmers and their unions, when Elin Jones, the daughter of a farmer, was elected as Minister of Rural Affairs, she was able to persuade her colleagues to opt for the cull. There were only a small number of AMs that had opposed the cull. He went on on to talk about the civil liberty issues and how disappointed he was regarding the heavy handed approach of the Welsh Assembly Government. He was very concerned regarding the secrecy, intimidation and paranoia, 'It is not the democracy I am familiar with - I am horrified that people are being treated in this way ...'. There was evidence that those opposing the cull were under surveillance, videos showing the police/surveyors turning up to survey land had been removed from YouTube, posters had been taken down from shop windows, people had been stopped and searched under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Elderly and disabled residents had been intimidated through the unannounced appearance of masked contractors escorted by police officers on their land, who refused to allow the residents the opportunity to establish whether correct procedures were being followed by arresting them for obstruction. Those against the cull were being treated as animal rights' activists.
Interestingly, on writing about the meeting in his blog (http://peterblack.blogspot.com/2010/06/watching-watchers.html) he mentioned that the two police officers (who had attended a previous PAC meeting and assured the views of both 'sides' would be respected) had turned up at the meeting before being asked to leave as it transpired that they had parked their vehicle so that it faced the entrance to the car park with a camera facing outwards. Peter had asked the officers about the camera and they said that it was switched off but he did not feel very convinced about this, particularly as he had received several complaints from those who had attended previous PAC meetings and who had been stopped by police whilst driving at other times. It was clear that those opposed to the cull - ordinary law abiding citizens who were not breaking any laws - were now under surveillance.
The author and actor Jerome Flynn was also present. He had offered his support to PAC.
14 Jun 2010, 3:53 PM
The case study section of this website reveals the adverse effects of the government's existing bovine TB (bTB) eradication programme on the farming community. However, the policy is now starting to affect the wider community and not just the farming industry and cattle owners. In north Pembrokeshire preparations are underway for the compulsory cull of badgers as part of the ongoing programme to eradicate bovine TB. A significant number (WAG refuses to say how many) of farmers and landowners in the cull area do not want the badgers on their land culled. In previous culls people have been able to opt out but the Pembrokeshire cull is compulsory, even on nature reserves and protected wildlife habitat areas. Those against the cull have formed the Pembrokeshire Against the Cull (PAC)(Ref. 1) to peacefully protest and try and change the minds of the politicians and policy makers, as they believe that vaccination of badgers is a better option than slaughter. There are those who support the cull and the area has become divided on the issue with apparently adverse effects on communities and even families who may share different opinions.
It is clear that the majority of people at the well attended (between 50 and 200 people present at each) PAC meetings are ordinary, law abiding people who have become embroiled in this issue. Many enjoy having the badgers on their land, are concerned about the huge costs of the proposal and lack of scientific evidence to support it. Some are vegan and do not wish to support the dairy or meat industries.The majority would appear to support vaccination rather than a cull. However, it would now appear that these people are being treated as extreme activists and subjected to intolerable pressure from the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG), with a heavy-handed approach from officials and the police (Ref. 2). Separate incidents on the same day in May raised grave concerns regarding WAG’s use of its new legal powers. In one incident four black hooded surveying contractors and police turned up at a farm where the only occupier at the time they arrived (without notice) was an elderly, disabled person who suffers from memory problems and high blood pressure. The family had specifically asked to be notified so they could avoid this happening and their requests were ignored. When the son of this person, Dr Gavin Wheeler, a local farmer/landowner, arrived back shortly afterwards to find the police and contractors at his home and his father trembling with shock at the invasion, he was arrested for supposedly stealing three ID cards, despite the fact that he was given these cards to check. He was later released without charge or any further action. He said, 'I was just holding the cards, it was very obvious at the time. I had been 'given' them, after all. Also I was only given three cards although there were four contractors hiding in their car with their faces covered'. The contractors concerned were wearing balaclavas and there were no names on the ID cards. He has now made a formal complaint to the police and is trying to get his DNA and fingerprints removed from their database..
In a similar incident earlier the same day, several police vehicles, around twenty police officers, WAG officials and surveyors, again wearing black balaclavas to conceal their identities, arrived at the Brithdir low impact community at Cilgwyn. The number of police and officers who attended exceeded the number of civilians present. There was a similar issue regarding identity and the community members tried in vain to reason with the officers. Two were arrested for obstruction, but later released without charge. Another family was also visited and suffered similar treatment. An elderly, disabled lady from Abercych waited in all afternoon (with supporting friends) for the set surveyors who had arranged to come but did not arrive, although three police offices visited her the same morning. She believes this was because she sent a letter stating she did not agree with the cull. One Pembrokeshire resident, Felicia Ruperti, said, of the recent incident at Cilgwyn: “I felt very intimidated by the amount of police here today. We have been peaceful from the start and have not threatened anyone”. Police were also said to be stopping motorists nearby and searching them under anti-terrorist legislation (Ref. 3), which, in fact, may not even be legal (Ref. 4). Many now feel unable to publicly voice their objections due to the climate of fear and intimidation that currently exists in Pembrokeshire and the outlying areas. Is this just what WAG is aiming for? Landowners in Pembrokeshire can apparently now look forward to masked contractors turning up at any time during the day or night, with rifles, to set/check traps and shoot all captured badgers. The legal, human rights, public security and safety issues are being ignored.
Why the balaclava helmets? Are these surveyors ashamed of what they are doing? According to reports on the internet (Ref. 5) the company undertaking the surveying work is said to be Thomson Ecology, who we have contacted but has failed to respond. It claims to be the UK’s leading ecological consultant and one of their core values is scientific integrity – there is currently much doubt among the scientific community regarding the benefits of culling. Why would the surveyors wish to hide their identities. A statement from WAG’s Minister of Rural Affairs said the contractors felt personally intimidated and did not like being filmed. What about the landowners? What would have been the reaction if they had worn such headgear? We understand the contractors are not even local. Given the huge budget for the cull, presumably they are also being paid well for what they are doing. If the recent article (Ref. 6) in the Mail Online is to be believed, some are going to do very well out of the cull. The article claims a Pembrokeshire man was offered £150,000 a year for up to five years to kill and dispose of badgers!
The cost of the cull is estimated to be around £9 million pounds, excluding policing and indirect costs, yet surprisingly, no cost benefit analysis has been undertaken. Over a five-year period, all badgers from a 288km2 area will be caged and shot. Last year WAG introduced the TB Eradication (Wales) Order (Ref. 7), which gave it unprecedented powers, including ones giving it draconian rights of access to all land in order to survey sets, trap and shoot badgers. The Badger Trust challenged the TB Eradication Order by way of a judicial review. This tested the legality of the process, not the appropriateness of the decision to cull. WAG argued (Ref 8) that badger culling will reduce bovine TB in cattle by 6 - 9% (and that will apparently be for only two years following the five years duration of the cull). In April 2010 the Judge, Mr Justice Lloyd Jones, concluded that WAG did have discretionary powers to carry out the cull, but noted that it was for the Ministers, rather than the court, to undertake a balancing exercise between the costs and benefits of the proposed cull. The Badger Trust has sought leave to appeal against the judgement and was granted consent to do this in early June 2010 (Ref 9). The Badger Trust has argued that the Mr Justice Lloyd Jones, failed to correctly interpret section 21(2) of the Animal Health Act 1981, which provided that the cull must 'eliminate or substantially reduce' the incidence of TB in cattle. David Wolfe, the barrister acting for the Badger Trust trust, said that something more than a 'minor or trivial reduction' was required. He also challenged the suggestion that parliament could have intended to allow the slaughter of wild animals (the killing of which was normally a criminal offence) without the decision maker 'even needing to consider the balance in question'.The main arguments for the appeal are that the Welsh Assembly Government had not shown that a cull would 'eliminate or substantially reduce' the rate of TB infection, as the law meant it had to, and that ministers had a duty to weigh the harm to the badger population against the possible benefits to farmers, but had not done so. Despite this pending appeal, that may not be heard for several months, WAG was insisting it would proceed with the cull, until the public announcement on the 11th June when it was decided to suspend the cull as the hearing had been expedited to the end of June.
Even scientists and experts are undecided and arguing aongst themselves as to whether or not badger culls will work, and certainly no research has been undertaken into the cost effectiveness of such measures or indirect effects on other sectors. It must also be noted that culling removes all healthy animals too and the majority of badgers in the previous experimental culls have been found to be healthy. In view of these clearly regnised and accepted doubts one wonders why Elin Jones (the Minister for Rural Affairs) and the Welsh Assembly Government are labelling those landowners in the cumpulsory cull area in Pembrokeshire who are against the cull as disruptive and taking such a heavy handed approach to their peaceful protests. Elin Jones has engaged with the farming community but not with those who are opposed to the cull and one does wonder why no open public meeting has been organised to date. I strongly suspect, going by the well attended PAC meetings, (I understand she has declined invitations to attend their meetings) that there may well be more than just the 'small number of individuals' she and WAG claim are against the cull. Surely these people have a right to peacefully protest, particularly when there is even confusion amongst scientists and experts regarding the benefits and cost effectiveness of such a cull? It is the inflexible and zero tolerance approach adopted by WAG, and laid down by this body in law, which raises significant concerns regarding the future for us all (and for our wildlife). WAG would now appear to be using its new legal powers to stifle debate, prevent opposition and discourage peaceful protest. It must be asked - is such action legal?
Ref. 1 www.pembrokeshireagainstthecull.org.uk Ref. 2 http://peterblack.blogspot.com http://peterblack.blogspot.com/2010/06/badger-cull-what-minister-said-in.html www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/8173388 welsh_assembly_government_badger_survey_sparks_protest/?ref=mr Ref. 3 www.walesonline.co.uk/countryside-farming-news/country-farming-columnists/2010/06/01/it-s-a-sorry-state-when-state-uses-terror- laws-91466-26559507 http://peterblack.blogspot.com/2010/06/anti-terrorist-legislation-used-in.html www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/features/Badger-cull-is-far-from.6355702.jp Ref. 4 www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jun/10/anti-terror-law-illegal-stop-search Ref. 5 Company silent on badger cull amid web warnings: www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2010/05/21/company-silent-on-badger-cull-amid-web-warnings-91466-26489995/ Ref. 6 A new, touchy-feely democracy? Try telling that to the badgers...: www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1280598/liz-jones-a-new-touchy-feely-democracy-try-telling-badgers-.html Ref. 7 The Tuberculosis Eradication (Wales) Order 2009: http://tiny.cc/ht8q9 Ref. 8 This link includes all the legal documents presented at the initial judicial review, including the judgment, which upheld the order and the response from WAG: www.nfbg.org.uk/Content/Home.asp Ref. 9 www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/09/badger-cull-legal-challenge
11 Jun 2010, 6:25 PM
The cost of the cull is going to rise further in view of the recent decision that will involve more legal costs for the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG). In June 2010 the Badger Trust was granted leave to appeal against the High Court decision (April 2010) which cleared the way for the Pembrokeshire cull in west Wales. In April the High Court had ruled that there was no obligation on WAG's Minister for Rural Affairs, Elin Jones, to carry out a balancing exercise before deciding whether there should be a large-scale cull of badgers. The Badger Trust has argued that the Judge, Mr Justice Lloyd Jones, failed to correctly interpret section 21(2) of the Animal Health Act 1981, which provided that the cull must 'eliminate or substantially reduce' the incidence of TB in cattle. David Wolfe, the barrister acting for the Badger Trust trust, said that something more than a 'minor or trivial reduction' was required.
He also challenged the suggestion that parliament could have intended to allow the slaughter of wild animals (the killing of which was normally a criminal offence) without the decision maker 'even needing to consider the balance in question'.
Mr Justice Elias said both points raised by the trust were arguable and granted leave to appeal. Gwendolen Morgan, solicitor in the public law department of Bindmans, acting for the Badger Trust said; “The success of our application to appeal to the Court of Appeal calls into question the minister’s plans to embark on this costly, ill-conceived cull, which is likely to do more harm than good in terms of TB reduction. Indeed, although it has largely passed under the radar, new cattle-focused measures are already beginning to make an impact in Wales and TB rates are quietly falling.” She added that preparations for the cull were “firmly under way” and it could, in theory, begin at any moment.
Ms Elin Jones has announced that the cull will be postponed pending the outcome of the appeal which is expected to be held at the end of June 2010.