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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Badger cull order squashed by court of appeal

Excellent news that the Court of Appeal have squashed the Labour-Plaid Cymru Government's order to carry out a badger cull in North Pembrokeshire. The BBC say that the appeal was allowed because it was wrong to make an order for the whole of Wales when the Government consulted on the basis of a Intensive Action Pilot Area (IAPA) which only supported a cull on evidence within the IAPA.

I am not clear what happened to the other two grounds for appeal but if they were not accepted then it is possible that the Minister could reintroduce the order. That would be the wrong thing to do. All the scientific evidence points to the fact that this cull would not have achieved the reduction in bovine TB rates claimed and may have led to an increase in the disease in outlying areas.

This does not mean that the threat of bovine TB should be ignored, Trials of a new badger vaccine are already underway in England and the Minister should look at this method of control as a matter of urgency. I will be urging her to initiate her own vaccination trial in the former-cull area alongside the cattle control measures she has already announced. Such a move would be welcome and from what I have been told would receive the co-operation of the whole community in North Pembrokeshire.

One final point: at the Government press conference earlier Carwyn Jones was asked if the Rural Affairs Minister should consider her position in the light of this judgement. He said that he did not think that was necessary. I disagree.

In my view the Minister has mishandled this from the start. Not only did she get the Order itself wrong, leading to this decision today, but she also embarked on a course of action in defiance of all the scientific evidence. She presided over unacceptable intimidation and action by the police and Welsh Government officials against the local population not seen in South Wales since the miners strike, and she succeeded in dividing a community against itself. She also sanctioned the destruction of a protected species in one part of Wales in contravention of the Government's owm missives supporting the environment and biodiversity. In my view she has no choice but to resign.

The UK Government need to take note of this. They at least are continuing one vaccination trial but if they do proceed with a cull as they threaten then they will put themselves on very sticky ground indeed.

Update: the judgement itself can be found here. Pembrokeshire against the cull report that all three judges found in favour of the Badger Trust on ground 3 - relating to the Order being applied to all Wales, when only evidence for IAPA was used as the basis for consultation and decision making.

Two of the three judges found in favour of the Badger Trust on grounds 1 and 2 in which they argued that the definition of substantial adopted by the WAG set too low a threshold, and that there was a necessity to carry out a balancing exercise between the harm to badgers and the benefit to cattle. All agreed the Order was quashed.

'On the view of the majority in this court as it appears in the following judgements it is not open to the Welsh Assembly Government immediately to make a fresh Order in the same terms but covering only the IAPA and to proceed forthwith with a badger cull there'.

So the option of just reintroducing a properly drawn order is not open to the Minster without substantially more work to address the other two grounds for appeal. This does have serious consequences for the UK Government.

Further Update: There is an excellent summary of the scientific and political issues on the BBC website here.
I am not clear what happened to the other two grounds for appeal
The spokesmen for the Badger Trust interviewed by BBC-News after the judgment confirmed that the Court had accepted all three grounds for appeal.
I agree, Elin Jones must resign from her position. As you say she has made the wrong decisions throughout this saga, which has lead to todays decision to stop the culling order. She seemed to have been blinded by her affinty to the farming community of which she is a member.

I have sympathy for farmers who are affected by Bovine TB, however the eradication of a protected species is not the answer as the appeals court has ruled today.

At last, common sense has prevailed and the WAG now needs to explore other avenues to eradicate Bovine TB, without beating the same drum over badgers
I think the "Powers that Be" within the Parish Council on the Bay have shown that they shouldn't be trusted to run a bath.

Elin Jones must resign as an AM
GREAT! well done Badger Trust and well done Peter Black for keeping chiselling away on the blog.

The people of Wales should be consulted if such a cruel measure is ever to be undertaken in the future.
Great news that the Badger cull is stopped! I don't care what Elin Jones does but it would be good for the reputation of the Assembly Government if she attended an Elementary Science course with supplementary studies in Reasoning and Logic.
Well done Peter Black.
I agree AVBK. But also send most AMs and definitely the farmers on this basic Science course, with reasoning and logic thrown in.
Derek H
What is nto surprising is how Nerys Evans on the BBC website (linked on this blog) talks about the Assembly is having to pay out tens of millions of pounds to farmers in compensation, how really bloody stupid in the 1st place it was to grant compensation to farmers when it has nothing to do with the Welsh Assembly!
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