Badger Trust Announces Cull Legal Challenge

UK - The Badger Trust has sent a letter to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs giving them notice of the grounds of challenge which the Badger Trust intends to pursue if DEFRA does not set aside its decision to kill badgers in its measures to eradicate bovine tuberculosis.
calendar icon 9 February 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

David Williams, chairman of the Badger Trust, said: “The Badger Trust has responded in detail to both DEFRA’s consultation papers on culling and suggested viable alternatives. However, our concerns that the culls proposed will actually spread the disease have not been heeded.

"In the light of this and our concerns over the legality of the decision, we would be failing in our duty to badgers if we did not pursue a legal challenge despite the difficulty and cost risks involved.

"If there is an opportunity to save many thousands of healthy badgers, as there is here, we must take it on behalf of the many local badger groups and supporters on whose behalf the Badger Trust works. If successful it would also save farmers the expense of a policy which would not benefit them.

The badger trust opposes the cull on three grounds:

  • The culls will not meet the strict legal test of “preventing the spread of disease” in the areas being licensed, and may amount to a recipe for spreading the disease.

  • DEFRA’s cost impact assessment underpinning the decision is flawed because the cost assumptions are based on the free-shooting option which is assumed to be much cheaper.

  • The guidance which DEFRA issued to Natural England is invalid.
The Badger Trust will issue a statement on whether proceedings are necessary once it has studied DEFRA’s response.

In April 2011 the Badger Trust, with the support of Pembrokeshire Against the Cull, embarked on legal proceedings to quash a second Order of the then Welsh Assembly Government to destroy badgers. As a result of the Badger Trust’s challenge, the matter was suspended pending the outcome of a comprehensive scientific review ordered by the new Welsh Government.

The Badger Trust’s present action follows extensive legal advice as well as correspondence with DEFRA Ministers and officials to clarify the Department’s position on many topics of concern. Officers of the Badger Trust have also had several discussions with Ministers in person before the decision was announced. Matters raised included what has been decided, what else remains to be decided, when, and the process of implementation.


Further Reading

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