We are being told by the media that Britain has sunk into a pit of debt which is five times deeper than previously feared, with the country now owing the equivalent of £200,000 per household!
Instead of the £1 trillion reading normally presented as the nation's debt, the UK is in the red by closer to £5 trillion, figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal.
The oft-quoted £903bn figure for public sector net debt is a borrowing sum calculated by the ONS according to international standards. But a broader set of ONS figures taking in Government liabilities show unfunded public service pension obligations could add another £1.2 trillion and liabilities in unfunded state pension schemes a further £1.35 trillion.
In reality it does seem that bovine TB is not really the threat to human health some claim so why are we spending so much money on compensation, research, fighting legal cases, killing cattle ...
25 May 2018, 10:40 AM
IS THE TORY GOVERNMENT HOPING -TO WIPE OUT BADGERS FROM THE UK? Just as Ministers set off for their summer break we hear that many more badgers are scheduled to be slaughtered.
Creatures now in low-risk areas face being blasted by marksmen as the Tories step-up their campaign against Brock.
Opponents accused the Conservatives of waging a “blame game” over bovine TB, with badgers alleged to be infecting cattle across the countryside.
Seven months ago, Environment Secretary Michael Gove cheered animal rights activists by agreeing to launch a review into the science behind the cull.
But Farming Minister George Eustice slipped out a written statement on the last day before Parliament’s half-term recess revealing a fresh plot to kill the animals in low-risk areas if they are linked to a bovine TB outbreak.
He said: “I am announcing my intention to enable badger control measures in the LRA in the rare event that disease in badgers is linked with infected herds."
Queen guitarist Brian May has campaigned against the badger cull and set-up a charity, the Save Me Trust to protect wild animals.
In a statement, it said it was “saddened” by the latest announcement.
If the government's proposals go ahead, It would seem they are intent on removing badgers from the UK. This would be devastating.
Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the decision to (a) extend the badger cull in low risk areas and (b) remove the ten area cap limit on badger culling will be made after the conclusion of Sir Charles Godfray's review into the TB strategy.
George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Any decision to extend the badger cull to the Low Risk Area of England and remove the annual ten area limit on badger culling will be made separately to the TB strategy review. The decision will be made following the conclusion and analysis of responses from the current consultations, alongside relevant scientific evidence and veterinary advice.
The review, led by Sir Charles Godfray, will reflect on progress to date with the broad range of interventions to fight the disease outlined in the 25 year TB strategy. It will consider what additional actions might be necessary now to ensure other tools and interventions are ready to be deployed in later phases of the strategy, in order to ensure the Government maintains progress towards its target of becoming officially TB free by 2038. The review is expected to conclude by September 2018.
Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the evidential basis is for the effectiveness of badger culling in reducing TB in cattle in low risk areas.
George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs The evidential basis for the effectiveness of badger culling in the Low Risk Area, where infection in cattle is linked to infection in badgers, is the same as in the High Risk Area - that is, the randomised badger control trial.
Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of extending badger culling on local ecosystems; and whether an extension is in compliance with the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs The effect of badger culling on local ecosystems is considered by Natural England as part of its licensing of the companies responsible for carrying out culling operations. Where appropriate, Natural England imposes conditions on licences so as to protect wildlife or habitats within and around the culling areas.
When determining the appropriate operation in any particular area, responsibilities under the Bern Convention are taken into account.
19 Feb 2018, 1:58 PM
Michael Gove accused of betrayal over badger cull review
Having promised to review the government’s controversial badger cull policy on being appointed as Secretary of State for the Environment last year, the government has finally announced a review  of it’s TB eradication strategy that specifically excludes any examination of badger culling.
“This is political mendacity at its very worst,” says Badger Trust Chairman, Peter Martin. “Not only has Michael Gove gone back on his word on badger culling but the scope of the review  states that it will not look at the rationale for any past interventions and will be ‘prospective’ as opposed to ‘retrospective’. It is therefore hard to see how this can even be described as a ‘review’ as that would necessarily entail an examination of past performance.”
“Michael Gove has simply given in to pressure from the farming lobby who have stated publicly that a review of culling would put them in an extremely difficult position ,” continues Peter Martin. “The reason for this is that there is no conclusive evidence of how - or even if - badgers infect cattle with TB to any meaningful extent. Add to this the fact that there is no evidence that five years of culling has had any effect on levels of TB in cattle and you can see why they are scared of a review.”
“We put this to Michael Gove at a meeting in his office before Christmas when he asked why we thought that culling was taking place,” continues Peter Martin. “We told him it was mostly because the farming lobby is using badgers to deflect attention away from their own serious shortcomings in handling TB but also because no government minister had ever had the courage to stand up to them and tell them the hard scientific facts.”
“This was a deliberate challenge to Michael Gove,” says Peter Martin, “we wanted to see if all his public posturing over the environment and animal welfare had any substance. Well now we know.”
“The situation is even worse” says Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust. “At the same time as announcing this ‘non-review’ Defra have started consulting on extending the badger culls to the areas of the country which have little or no bovine TB . There can be no rational explanation for this in terms of controlling the disease. Recently revealed data on levels of TB in badgers from the existing cull zones  shows that even in the high risk HRA only around 3% of badgers are infected enough to present a risk even to themselves let alone cattle. Badger infection rates will be much lower in the low risk LRA areas of the country.”
“It simply doesn’t make sense,” continues Dominic Dyer, “especially as the government has also just announced a significant expansion and investment in the badger vaccination scheme for the TB Edge Areas and Low Risk areas. They cannot credibly do both. Equally, vaccination has reduced TB levels in badgers to around 1% in the Welsh IAA TB hotspot, which shows how well it works for badgers although there has been no decrease in cattle infections. Overall cattle TB incidents have halved in Wales over five years without any culling of badgers to date. Culling badgers doesn’t work.”
“We can only conclude that the government and farming industry are on a mission to eradicate badgers from all areas of the country based on nothing more than anecdote and opinion, which defies all scientific and expert advice,” continues Dominic Dyer. “This latest series of announcements has effectively removed all protection from badgers on farmland in England. Michael Gove has proved he is prepared to betray not only his own words but also the principles of governing for the public good and that of our environment for which he has been given responsibility. He has already signed the death warrant of 20,000 badgers since taking office and is setting about the process of killing tens of thousand more at the behest of a powerful minority lobby that supports his government. We urge everyone who opposes this to email Michael Gove directly at email@example.com. ”
For media enquiries please contact Dominic Dyer tel: 07876 596 233, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Section 3: Scope - The review will not re-visit the rationale for current interventions in the Strategy. It will take a prospective and not a retrospective view. It is not a review of badger culling.
https://www.fginsight.com/news/news/nfu-leadership-hopefuls-question-goves-commitment-to-badger-cull--51421 Quote - Current livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe, who is standing for both vice and deputy president, said: “We have got to work our backsides off to make sure Gove does not change his position, because at the minute he is on the edge.
“We do not want any reviews, because if we get to that stage, we will struggle.”
Are badgers in danger of being wiped out in the UK? Those of us who care thought the appointment of Michael Gove as Environment Minister may stop the futile culling of badgers but it would seem we were misled. The latest announcement says the government will not be reviewing the badger cull but they are to 'consult' on rolling it out to the low risk areas. Most of us know that 'consulting' usually means they just carry on how they want regardless of the comments received from consultation.
I write for the second time to express my disgust at the expansion of the appalling bloodbath that is the badger cull, the destruction of an important part of our British heritage. Your education obviously didn't include any explanation of the interdependency of both plants and animals, the big picture, the detrimental effects of species removal.
Not only have the culls of the last 5 years yielded no positive results for the reduction of tb in cattle, they have caused distress to public and industry alike. Introducing culling into Low Risk Areas would be unthinkable to any normal well informed member of society, particularly as it is a precautionary measure to prevent ingress of disease. This could be likened to killing all carnivorous mammals carrying rabies as a precautionary measure, but wait, don't we vaccinate and in so doing have eradicated this fatal disease.
I am amazed that someone with political will,who listens, questions, researches and has the wisdom, or maybe not, of political experience can condone such a policy. Your green credentials have faded into insignificance together with a total loss of credibility.
The blinkered obsession with killing badgers has been designed with one objective only, that of destroying the Badger Protection Act. Badger persecution has escalated during the last 5 years with very few if prosecutions. The supplementary licences of Somerset and Gloucestershire have enabled industry and others to kill protected wildlife under the radar, without scrutiny, until infinity. Again the introduction of culling into LRA's is a policy without substance, it's an embarrassment to yourself and your department and can only serve as encouragement for further criminal activity.
Who are the beneficiaries of badger culling, certainly not farming businesses ? Large landowners, shooting estates, developers, Conservative supporters and donors. Badgers are a distraction and hindrance to their activities, remove the protection act and make life easier, wildlife taking the hit for their greed.
Conservative legacies are now firmly established- 1. Brexit 2. Badger cull both of which have destroyed the Best of British, and both attributed to yourself.
For 8 years Defra have hidden behind a smokescreen of lies and deceit, but not for much longer Brand Badger is already geared up to welcome the comprehensive animal welfare plans of the incoming Government. Your days of aspirations for Downing Street are numbered.
One very angry, frustrated, heartbroken individual.
25 Jan 2018, 5:50 PM
Government department Natural England has lost its appeal to withhold information about the wider ecological impact of badger culling. The initial request was made by ecologist Tom Langton and backed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), following Natural England’s refusal to supply all the details necessary to properly assess the damage the culls may be having to wildlife outside the cull zones.
Natural England argued that releasing all the details would mean protester groups could more accurately identify the cull zone boundaries. They argued that this would lead to an increase in harassment and intimidation of farmers taking part in the culls and to more badger traps being damaged or stolen. However, the tribunal judges found their case to be “unconvincing”, with much of their evidence relating to events not covered by the case or simply not substantiated by fact.
Ultimately, the judges decided that even if they were wrong regarding the alleged protester activity, the legitimate public interest in releasing the information outweighed upholding the exemption sought by Natural England.
“This is the second time Natural England have tried to rely on this defence,” says Badger Trust Chairman, Peter Martin who attended the Tribunal throughout. “A strikingly similar case was brought against them by Anna Dale and the ICO in 2015, and their arguments were comprehensively demolished by the judges back then. It’s therefore astonishing that they thought they would succeed this time, not only using the same assertions but also most of the same witnesses.” “Natural England’s principal witness was a senior official who crumbled under cross examination,” continues Peter Martin. “She was unable to confirm any substantive details of harassment or intimidation such as police arrests or convictions. Her Counsel was forced to suggest that the accounts given in written submission by their other two witnesses could only be attributed to the actions of cull protesters ‘on the balance of probability’. Their case seemed to be predicated entirely on conjecture, exaggeration and anecdote rather than hard fact. To be honest, the whole spectacle was embarrassing to watch.”
“Whilst neither case creates a legal precedent,” continues Peter Martin, “the outcome of both cases combine to put a definitive end to the prospect of government ever again being able to withhold important information based on such a flimsy pretext. The overriding presumption is in favour of disclosure and that is backed up by national and international law. They could appeal but I think that would be clutching at straws and will be seen as a disingenuous attempt to further delay the inevitable.”
“This case raises a number of serious issues for government,” says Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust. “Firstly, Natural England’s approach to releasing information was not balanced or impartial, it was entirely conceived in favour of the cullers and farming lobby and this kind of politicisation of government departments is a real cause for public concern. Next we need to find out why the government has gone to such lengths to conceal basic information about the impact of culling on the wider environment and we won’t know this until they release the data. Our suspicion is that they have not conducted proper analyses of the wider ecological impact of culling and should not therefore have issued licences to kill badgers. This issue is far from over as there is a Judicial Review pending, which should examine the case for culling in much greater detail.”
“The pressure is mounting on Environment Secretary Michael Gove to deliver on his promise of a full review of the badger culls and the wider strategy for dealing with bovine TB,” concludes Dominic Dyer. “So far the public is being subjected to another version of ‘project fear’ but this case is another demonstration of how their basic claims and assumptions cannot stand a forensic legal examination of the facts. Bovine TB is costing this nation a huge amount in taxpayer’s money, cattle and wildlife slaughtered and farmers livelihoods ruined. The government cannot procrastinate any longer. The culls must be halted and the review begun immediately.”
The Badger Trust gives it full support to Lorraine Platt and Conservatives Against Fox Hunting as some in the Tory party do all they can to silence those who speak out for the majority - not very democratic! December 24, 2016
The attempt by Sir Edward Garnier QC with the support of the Countryside Alliance to have the campaign group banished from the Conservative Party, is a blatant attempt to silence opposition to fox hunting and badger culling within the Tory Party and the government.
Today’s article in The Times, “Tories urged to sever ties with secretive anti-hunting group”, suggests that the group, Conservatives Against Fox Hunting, should be prevented from using the party’s logo or name. The article further states that there is concerns over the groups funding and participation in campaigns and events with The League Against Cruel Sports and the Badger Trust. CAFH claimed that the attacks on their group were a “baseless smear” and stated that they have complied with all rules. The full article can be found here.
It's clear that the pro blood sports and badger culling lobby within the Conservative Party are increasingly concerned that the caring compassionate voice for wildlife protection is gaining ground in the party.
The Badger Trust working alongside other wildlife protection organisations will ensure this voice is strengthened not silenced in 2017 and beyond.
CEO Badger Trust
2 Nov 2015, 10:20 AM
GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO REVEAL COST JUSTIFICATION FOR NEW BADGER CULLS
A Freedom of Information Request (FoI) has revealed that the Government’s promised financial reappraisal of its badger cull policy will not be made public.
In 2011 the Government stated in a policy paper  see here, that it would revise its cost benefit analysis with data from the pilot badger culls undertaken in Somerset and Gloucestershire, before making any decision on rolling out the policy to new areas of the country.
The culls were extended to Dorset this year despite the county having one of the best TB reduction results in the whole South West but no information on whether the extension was justified has ever been published.
Reacting to this decision to withhold key information on the cost benefit analysis of the badger culls, Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust said:
“The badger culls have proven a disastrous failure on scientific and humaneness grounds but a key factor which is likely to bring the policy to an end is the huge cost burden on the tax payer. We learned from Risk Registers published in February 2015, after a 3 year legal battle between DEFRA and the Badger Trust, that Ministers were advised that the cull policy could lead to huge financial loss or budgetary over run.
“With DEFRA confirming the culls in 2013 and 2014 cost the tax payer £16.8 million or £6,775 per badger killed, these fears have proved well grounded.
“We now learn that the Government are hiding their cost benefit analysis for the pilot badger culls, despite confirming this would play a key part in any final decision on rolling out the policy, as they have now done in Dorset.
“The Government’s reluctance to release this information, proves what we have known all along, the badger cull is a hugely expensive, scientifically flawed and inhumane policy which is unlikely to make a significant contribution to lowering the level of bovine TB in cattle.
“The Badger Trust calls on the Environment Secretary Liz Truss to immediately release the cost benefit analysis of the 2013 and 2014 pilot culls into the public domain.”
Peter Martin, Chair of the Badger Trust said:
“This policy is now becoming something of a national scandal. The levels of secrecy surrounding its implementation indicate that the Government has something serious to hide from us.
“The public and MPs should have been given full access to the cost benefit analysis on the pilot badger culls before any decision was taken to roll out the policy to new areas of the country. People’s trust and confidence in the Government is being tested to its limit as all the indications from DEFRA’s published figures suggest this policy is not only ruinously expensive but also failing on every measured indicator.
“This was supposed to be a farmer led and farmer paid for initiative, but as the taxpayer is picking up the bill the very least the Government should do is tell the truth about whether this money is being properly spent. One has to assume that if it was they would be more than happy to tell us, so I suggest we can draw our own conclusions on this.
"What is really worrying is that the Government constantly reiterates the culls will be extended round the country but if they cannot justify the expenditure then they should cancel the policy now. They should stop playing the badger blame game and focus on a programme of improved cattle control measures, biosecurity and TB testing systems, similar to those which have delivered a 48% drop in the level of new bovine TB cases in cattle in Wales over the last 5 years, without any badger culling. English farmers simply cannot wait any longer for the Government to get its act together on this and DEFRA should stop wasting their time and our taxes on this failed cull policy.”
 In particular see paragraphs 4.17/4.18 on page 16.
4.17. The cost assumptions used in the Impact Assessment are for the pilot areas, and it is likely that the Government costs would be lower for areas licensed subsequently as the monitoring costs in particular would be lower. The farming industry is also confident that it can deliver culling at a lower cost than estimated in the Impact Assessment. There are however plainly some uncertainties around the estimated costs and benefits. This provides an additional reason for the decision to proceed cautiously with a pilot in two areas initially before considering whether to proceed with a wider roll-out. (That cautious approach is in any event justified by the desirability of conducting a pilot to test our expectations in relation to the efficacy, safety and humaneness of culling by means of controlled shooting.)
4.18. Culling in two pilot areas will enable us to test our and the farming industry’s cost assumptions for elements of the policy where there is currently uncertainty. Alongside the outcome of the evaluation of culling in the pilot areas (see paragraph 6.1), this will also inform our decision on wider roll-out of the policy.
Press release from Badger Trust
2 Nov 2015, 9:27 AM
The Tory Government is refusing to reveal a key report which will reveal whether the controversial badger cull is effective and good value for money. Last year each badger culled cost more than £7,500.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has blocked publication of the major analysis, despite a freedom of information requests.
We ask - does the secret document throw into doubt claims the cull is worthwhile and economically viable?
Many already believe the badger cull is a hugely expensive, scientifically flawed and inhumane policy which is likely to make no significant contribution to lowering the level of bovine TB in cattle.
Defra refused to release the documents, saying: “We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosure of information concerning the badgerculls in order to enable the public to assess the quality of policy formulation, advice and guidance, to enhance transparency of decision making and increase Government accountability.
“However, Defra has concluded that the public interest in withholding the information sought outweighs the public interest in its disclosure.
“The assessment of value for money is still in draft form. Defra took a measured approach by extending culling to one additional area this year (Dorset) in order to test lessons learned in a new area and to expand the evidence base that will be used to inform analysis of badger cull cost assumptions and value for money.
“Information from this year’s culls will be used to refine Defra’s cost assumptions in the coming months and releasing an interim assessment before it has been finalised could mislead the public, distract from the discussion of effective disease control and impinge on the safe space officials require to develop the policy.”
9 Oct 2015, 11:07 AM
The NFU and former Defra Secretary Owen Paterson are claiming the reduction in bTB outbreaks in Somerset and Gloucester, the two culling areas are the result of badger culling. However, these claims are in direct opposition to the science and research of the 10 year RBCT Trial, widely regarded around the world as the leading scientific study in relation to culling badgers.
Professor Lord Krebs who oversaw the RBCT as Chief Scientific advisor to the government said "It’s simply not true that the pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have resulted in a decline in TB. The NFU should be more honest with the public and its members.”
14 Aug 2015, 2:13 PM
Now the government wants to hide the facts from us.
There are many in the current government that believe the current badger culling policy is not cost effective or humane as this latest press release from Blue Badger confirms. So, will the government heed their call to halt future culling? We will see.
Chairman of Conservative Animal Welfare and Founder of Blue Badger urge the Government to abandon the badger culls
The news that the pilot badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset look set to continue this year was condemned by the Chairman of Conservative Animal Welfare and the Founder of Blue Badger.
Suzy Gale, Chairman of Conservative Animal Welfare and Lorraine Platt of Blue Badger said: “It is very disappointing that the culls look set to continue despite Natural England's own Scientific Advisor branding the badger culls ' an epic failure'. The Government's own Independent Expert Panel showed that the pilot culls were both ineffective and inhumane.”
Lorraine Platt added: “The Government is so desperate to be seen to be doing something to control bovine TB but it should not ignore the science and facts against the badger cull. We call for England to follow Wales’s successful example of tackling bovine TB by focusing on cattle control measures and vaccinating badgers in the high risk TB areas.
Eminent scientists have spoken out against the cull because it will not significantly reduce incidents of bovine TB. The Labour Government culled over 11,000 badgers at a cost of around £50 million pounds over many years, only for the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) report of 2007 to conclude that culling badgers makes no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain.
The present Government does not need to futilely repeat badger culling and should learn from the ISG scientific Report conclusion that the rising incidence of TB disease can be reversed and geographical spread contained by the rigid application of cattle control measures alone.
The badger cull has been a disaster and has cost millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money which amounts to thousands of pounds per dead badger. Nearly all the killed badgers will not have bovine TB and the government has refused to test any of the badgers killed in the pilot zones for the last two years.
Twenty Conservative MP's signed Anne Main’s letter to former Minister Owen Paterson in 2013 of their concern of the considerable anxiety within the party about the pilot badger culls in England. The letter stated:
‘There is a need to keep Parliament informed of the results once the trial period has finished and before any decision is made on future culls.’ The letter called for any wider cull to be subject to a vote.
Sadly, for our Farmers, cattle and wildlife, the scientific advice has still not been heeded by Ministers and once again a pointless unnecessary cull looks likely to continue. We all have a vested interest in the correct and long term control of bovine TB. Culling badgers is not the solution. The solution lies in if the government will finally listen to sound science and focus on cattle based measures instead of badger culling as scientists have advised for many years. This disastrous policy has to end.”
9 May 2015, 8:01 AM
The Badger Trust is disappointed by the outcome of the Election which has resulted in the return of a Conservative Government remaining committed to the continuation of the pilot badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset together with the possible extension of badger culling to other counties of England. The Badger Trust will continue to oppose the badger cull policy on scientific, economic and animal welfare grounds.
We will challenge the badger cull policy in the Courts and in the media; we will lobby MP's of all parties and continue to campaign alongside you in the streets of our towns and cities. Badger Trust will support the wounded badger patrol movement, in order to help rid our countryside of this cruel, disastrous policy, which fails farmers, tax payers and our wildlife.
We will also continue to work with the Government, farmers and landowners to expand badger vaccination in order to build immunity against bovine TB in the badger population.
We would like to thank all our Groups and supporters for your tireless determination and efforts to stop the badger cull policy and we look forward to working closely with you as we continue the fight to end this new Government’s badger culling policy.
Dominic Dyer CEO Badger Trust
29 Apr 2015, 9:43 AM
According to May Edition of Veterinary Practice (page 26) reporting on the recent House of Commons 'Question Time', the Conservatives will continue to cull badgers, Labour and the Greens will not and apparently UKIP want to gas them (despite the latter being illegal).
The report suggested if you want good animal welfare policies vote Green or Labour. If you want hunting, snares, badgers culls ... vote Conservative or UKIP or if you want non commitment vote LibDem!
26 Apr 2015, 8:04 PM
Dear Sir or Madam:
The science underlying the topic of badgers and bovine TB is highly complex. This has led to information being deviously manipulated by those who want to cull badgers, whereupon they seize on scraps of data to misrepresent in support of culling while ignoring the overwhelming evidence against it. As such it has descended into a propaganda exercise by the National Farmers Union to win support for culling and distract attention from the real problem.
The truth is that the persistence of TB in cattle is largely due to the continuing spread of the disease among the cattle themselves. Scientists at Imperial College London estimate that less than 6% of cattle TB outbreaks are due directly to badgers.
Wales has reduced cattle TB incidence by almost a half in just five years by more rigorous testing of cattle. While England lags behind, the Westminster Government continues with its badger culling policy, despite two successive years of failure on both efficacy and welfare grounds. And the cost? The two pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have cost the tax payer a staggering £15million in just two years.
This Government has consistently shown a wilful disregard for the science in its pursuit of badger culling. The Government estimates that badger culling will, at best, lead to a 12 to 16% drop in cattle TB over 9 years, while many experts predict that due to significant changes in protocol it may actually make TB in cattle and badgers worse. As a result, we have to ask why our politicians are pursuing such an ill-conceived strategy. Political analysts conclude that it is to appease farmers and influential landowners in order to win their votes and financial support. If re-elected, the Tories will roll out more badger culls across the South West of England that will result in the needless slaughter of thousands more badgers.
Fortunately there are people who are not prepared to tolerate this contemptuous attitude towards our native wildlife for political ends. I recently joined a number of other scientists and veterinarians in writing to David Cameron to express our deep concerns about the Government’s TB policy
The reply was disappointing and gave no indication of the changes that are so desperately needed.
MPs are there to engage with their constituents on nationally important issues – badger culling ranks as the fifth most common subject of complaint to MP’s in 2014. I wrote to our Stroud MP, Mr Neil Carmichael, many weeks ago asking for his views on our correspondence with David Cameron. Apart from the usual acknowledgement, he has yet to reply. Indeed, he has failed to respond to all my written challenges and offers to discuss this subject since being elected. Instead of pursuing an objective position based on the facts in his stance on bovine TB, Mr Carmichael simply follows the Conservative whip in Government debates and votes in favour of badger culling.
Dr Chris Cheeseman Badger Ecologist and former government adviser
Note: You can read the abridged version of Dr Cheeseman’s letter published by Stroud News and Journal here: http://www.stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk/news/lettersextra/12909788.Badgers_and_bovine_TB_/?dm_i=1NFN,3CIRQ,97TLTF,BZ42D,1 You can also read his guest article for Badgergate on why a badger cull won’t work here: http://www.badgergate.org/guest-articles/why-a-badger-cull-wont-work/
29 Mar 2015, 6:05 PM
Brian May has said when it comes to scientific issues, parliamentary debate is lacking expert opinion – a point highlighted by the recent badger cull in parts of the UK. He said MPs need to learn more about the science behind specific issues when debating them.
"I think again there are some MPs who do take the trouble," he said. "I think what's lacking in parliamentary debates is an expert opinion. You watch people debating an issue like the badger cull and there was no one called to speak to the house who actually knows the subject and has spent their lives studying it. That's wrong to me, you're getting second hand opinions."
"Basically what's going to happen is that at the end of the debate the whips are going to come in and get people to vote a particular way. It's a foregone conclusion. Even if they don't do that the government can ignore the result."
May was speaking at the unveiling of the Common Decency campaign, which aims to encourage more people to vote while calling for reform of the UK's political system.
Brian May spearheaded a petition to stop the badger cull in 2012, with his e-petition going on to become the most signed on the government's website with 304,255 signatures.
"Independent scientific studies have shown that culling would be of little help in reducing bovine TB, and even suggests that it could make things worse in some areas," the petition said.
"We urge the government to stop the cull and implement the more sustainable and humane solution of both a vaccination programme for badgers and cattle, along with improved testing and biosecurity."
The petition failed, however. Environment secretary Owen Paterson gave the go ahead to the Department of Food and Rural Affairs to push ahead with the cull in February 2013. The four-year cull resumed in Gloucestershire and Somerset in September last year.
Just a few months later, further independent research was released suggesting testing cattle for bovine TB was 20 times more effective at controlling the spread of the disease than killing badgers.
Speaking about the parliamentary debate on the failed petition, May said: "You're looking at people – you can see it in their faces, we saw it with the badger cull - they're sort of lolling in their seats saying 'oh well, we're just going to carry on doing what we're doing. It doesn't matter about science, it doesn't matter about public opinion. We're just going to do it because of our own reasons.'"
Info from: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/brian-may-badger-cull-science-does-not-factor-parliamentary-debate-1493349?dm_i=1NFN,3A8MX,906L7E,BR7OZ,1
20 Mar 2015, 9:37 AM
The consequences of badger cull are more far reaching and badger persecution is rife and the government seems to be doing little to stop it.
Please see below the text of the Badger Trust letter to the Right Honourable Elizabeth Truss, MP, Secretary of State for the Environment Food & Rural Affairs, which was sent on 19th March 2015 following our meeting with her on 3rd March 2015.
Dear Secretary of State
STATEMENT ON BADGER PERSECUTION AND WILDLIFE CRIME
During our meeting on Tuesday, 3rd March to discuss the government’s badger cull policy, you gave us an undertaking that your department would issue a statement condemning the illegal killing and persecution of badgers. To date we have not seen such a statement and are therefore concerned to know the reason for the delay.
As you are aware all badgers and their setts are fully protected by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Anyone who takes, kills or injures a badger, or who interferes with a badger sett, can be sent to prison for six months and/ or be fined up to £5,000.
We are particularly concerned that the pilot badger culls have caused a huge increase in illegal killing, something DEFRA’s own Risk & Issues Logs (RILs) clearly predicted. The Badger Trust Incidents Report, which compiles annual records from our supporters, general public, police and the RSPCA has shown a 116% increase from 323 persecution incidents in 2012 to 697 in 2013.
These incidents not only show a worrying escalation in the number of farmers and landowners willing to illegally kill badgers but also in the cruel methods used, such as by gassing, shooting, poisoning and snaring. The apparent legitimising of these abhorrent activities by the implementation of the government’s cull needs to be addressed immediately.
These attacks have become a blight on our society and countryside, and we feel it very important that Government Ministers are seen to be leading the fight against wildlife crime, particularly the Secretary of State responsible for DEFRA. We shall put this letter in the public domain and look forward to seeing your response in the very near future.
Dominic Dyer CEO Badger Trust
18 Mar 2015, 9:42 PM
David Cameron has called the badger cull 'probably the most unpopular policy for which I am responsible', writes Dominic Dyer in his recet article in the Ecologist. But unable to break his pledge to landowners and the NFU, he has left Environment Secretary Liz Truss to fudge the issue until election time.
See article at: www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/2795093/will_the_badger_cull_cost_the_tories_the_election_it_certainly_ should.html
8 Mar 2015, 8:52 PM
The Badger Trust's report of its recent meeting with Liz Truss, DEFRA Secretary of State, is at http://www.badgertrust.org.uk/news/posts/2015/liz-truss-meeting-update.aspx - an interesting meeting but of significant concern was: 'We knew our facts and we were no doubt better briefed and had a clearer understanding of TB policy than the Secretary of State who is responsible for its implementation.'
4 Feb 2015, 7:21 PM
Ministers were warned of badger cull risks, documents show Risk registers published after freedom of information battle reveal warnings over strong public opposition and risk of making bovine TB problem worse, not better.
Ministers were warned of the severe risks posed by England’s controversial badger cull three years before they began, according to documents released after a two-year legal battle.
Strong public opposition to the policy halting the cull was one of the top-ranked problems assessed by the ‘risk registers’, which are released the day after David Cameron admitted the badger cull is “probably the most unpopular policy I’m responsible for”.
Other significant risks were that the cull could cause an increase in tuberculosis in cattle, rather than decrease it, cost more than the funds available to government agencies and the police, and that “disagreement on the evidence base” would lead to “conflicting messages” to ministers.
The pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have repeatedly missed their targets for the minimum number of badgers shot, leading experts to warn that disrupted badgers could spread TB further. Most independent scientists have condemned the cull and an independent panel ruled the first year’s culling to be neither effective or humane. The culls cost the government £6.3m in the first two years and the police £3.5m in the first year alone.
“The risk registers clearly show a policy that should never have moved beyond the starting blocks,” said Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the Badger Trust and policy advisor for Care for the Wild. “From day one it was clear to all involved that badger culling would be hugely expensive and would pose a significant risk of TB spread as a result of perturbation. If the public and MPs were given access to this information before the policy was implemented, we could have stopped this disastrous cull, saving millions of pounds of public money and the lives of thousands of badgers.”
The Badger Trust requested the risk registers, compiled in 2010, using freedom of information laws. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) refused and fought a series of ultimately unsuccessful appeals.
22 Jan 2015, 4:10 PM
Sneaked out just before Christmas, Defra's assessment of the 2014 badger cull inspired NFU leaders to claim 'success', writes Rosie Woodroffe. But the figures indicate the precise reverse: that too few badgers were killed to be effective against bovine TB, indeed the cull may even help to spread the disease. ...
Read more at: www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/Blogs/2721026/fail_2014_badger_cull_didnt_kill_enough_badgers_to_be_effective.html
18 Jan 2015, 6:45 PM
Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was economical with the truth and downright misleading when she spoke in Oxford recently about bovine TB and badger culling.
One sentence in the statement is clearly alarmist and particularly misleading: "...the disease increased ninefold between 1997 and 2010".
Firstly, there are warnings in Defra's own documents to be conscious of the acute rise in bTB incidence during the Foot & Mouth outbreak during 2001/2002 as inclusion of figures from these years will skew any conclusions, so using a time period spanning 1997 to 2010 is either negligent or duplicitous.
Secondly, any reference to the rise or fall of bTB incidence must be made relative to the number of herds/cattle tested as these have increased dramatically over the years meaning there will be a rise in cattle detected but not in cattle infected, as confirmed in the latest AHVLA 'Bovine TB Annual Surveillance Report 2013' which states:
"Since the beginning of 2003, the RELATIVE RATE of increase of OTF-W [confirmed] breakdowns has fallen by more than a half" - see https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/388679/tb-pub-surveport-eng13.pdf, page 24
(email from P 15 Jan 2015)
8 Jan 2015, 6:04 PM
Why isn't more being done to ascertain why some farms do not appear to get any bovine TB? Perhaps this is what Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs should be concentrating on, rather than insisting on rolling out further badger culling across the rest of England? Here is a story of a farmer, with an active badger sett, in Somerset where we are told bovine TB is rife in the area and has led to intense badger culling. Let's hope this farmer's situation does not change as a result of any perturbation effect.
A Somerset farmer is celebrating 60 years clear of bovine TB, after all of his cattle passed their most recent test for the disease last month.
Chris and Margaret Burnett, who farm near Martock, keep a total of 51 cattle, made up of 12 Highlands, Longhorns and Charolais.
Chris, 74, who was born on the family-owned farm, has managed to keep the herd’s TB-free status intact for six decades, following the results of their most recent test on December 15, in which all the cattle tested negative for the disease, which continues to cause misery for hundreds of livestock farmers across the South West and further afield.
“I’ve never had a failure here and I have had cattle right from when I left school,” he said.
Chris went on to say that he has a number of badgers on his farm, which are very often in the same field as the cattle. He added that he didn’t know if neighbouring farms were having the same run of luck as him.
“We’ve got badgers here and I have seen them in with the cattle. I have got a badger sett about 60 metres away from my house,” he said.
“The only fault I have with the badgers is that they keep digging up my tulip bulbs.”
Chris admits that despite his long running clear status, he does still get nervous when the cattle are due to be tested. “You could have quite a few go down, you just don’t know, but up until now I haven’t had any.”
He went on to explain that conservation plays a huge role on the farm, part of which is open to the public and includes a landscaped garden, lake and mock Tudor tower.
“It is all down to conservation here,” said Chris. “I don’t use any concentrates and it’s all about feeding them good hay.” He added that he works to maintain the hedges which surround his farm in order to provide shelter for the cattle.
Gloucestershire Cull fails again but government fails to tell the truth
What can we read to the timing? What a good time to release news to be buried quickly. The day after MPs went home from Parliament for Christmas the government has finally admitted that this year’s Gloucestershire Badger Cull was a failure for the second year running. The cull operators killed 274 badgers, just 25% of the maximum number of badgers they intended to kill in this year’s Gloucestershire cull and missed their minimum target by over 340 badgers.
Sadly yet again the government and the NFU are not telling the truth.
Whilst DEFRA confirmed that the Gloucestershire Cull wasn’t effective they are blaming the failure to“extensive unlawful protest and intimidation”. This is despite the Gloucestershire Police confirming yesterday that there were only three arrests during the cull and most protest activity was conducted lawfully.
The Chief Vet, Nigel Gibbens has stated that despite this year’s failure, the Gloucestershire cull should go ahead as long as “there are reasonable grounds for confidence that it can be carried out more effectively in 2015”. This is despite this year’s cull being no more effective or humane than last years. The shooters took almost twelve hours to shoot each badger they killed and had to set each trap more than 50 times for each badger they trapped and shot.
THE NFU have blamed the failure on both protestors and there being far fewer badgers than had been estimated originally. Earlier in the cull they blamed the slow start on the full moon! Despite all of this they are pressing for other areas in Gloucestershire to be included in a wider cull in 2015.
Make no mistake, the cull will go ahead again in 2015 if the Conservative government is re-elected.
A few days ago the usually well informed Guardian have suggested that the cull operators are planning to start the cull in June in 2015 with the intention of targeting badger cubs which will be much easier to trap and shoot. Experts suggest that this will solely be about increasing numbers when in fact most cubs are not infected with bTB. As usual it’s not about the science or what works.
Former Defra secretary Owen Paterson received a severance deal of more than £38k after he was ousted from his post in the summer, Farmers Weekly has learned.
According to figures obtained from a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, Mr Paterson was given a severance payment of £38,804.77 when Norfolk MP Liz Truss replaced him in July.
A proponent of the badger cull, Paterson was the main instigator of the current badger culling taking place in England.
Mr Paterson’s payout is: More than twice the average Less Favoured Area livestock *farm business income in 2013-14
£9,300 more than the average *farm business income for a mixed farm in 2013-14
*Farm Business Income represents the financial return (before accounting for the farmer’s own and other unpaid family labour) and on all capital invested in the farm business, including in land and buildings.
17 Nov 2014, 9:41 AM
So Environment Secretary, Liz Truss, gave out false information - the cost per badger was actually: £5,200 PER BADGER (COST 2013 PILOT CULLS).
BBC Points West: www.dailymotion.com/video/x2aahj8_bbc1-points-west-14nov14_animals
BBC Radio Sussex: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02bkt8h