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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Welsh Government pay the price for badger cull legal action

BBC Wales reports that the legal cost of the Welsh Assembly Government's defence of its planned badger cull was more than £57,000.

However, they also continue to cling to the lazy and entirely inaccurate myth that the Government only lost the case on a technicality, namely that they failed to properly reflect the consultation in the way the order was drawn up.

In fact the most damaging grounds for rejection of the Minister's case was that she had failed to demonstrate the substantial reduction in bTB necessary to justify culling a protected species. She was only able to claim a 9% reduction in the disease, a figure that in itself is disputed.

In other words it was the science that did for the cull as well as the incompetence of the Minister and her officials in the way that they pursued their misguided policy.
The appeal court reflected the will of the people of Wales, they do not want the cull. Welsh people are not a brutal people and it is time the politicians that represent them take some credence from public opinion.
It will be interesting to see whether this will have an effect on the planned Lib Dem-supported badger culls in England.

Will the badger groups be calling for boycotts of English products and boycotts of English tourism?
Let us hope that it does have an effect on the planned Conservative-Lib Dem Government badger cull in England, which are ill-advised and unnecessary.
Surely, it was the election results that reflects the will of the people of Wales, not the appeal court.

The unanimous factor which the appeal court agreed on was the 'whole of Wales' application of the order, something the badger trust did not contend during the judicial review. Elin Jones decided not to appeal the 9% majority claim to the supreme court as that bill could have run into millions not £50k. The place to argue scientific efficacy is in pilot programmes and data analysis by scientific staff, not by lawyers in courtrooms. We wait and see what the Westminster government decide for England, their bTB cattle bill is much higher and the ConDems in Westminster have virtually abandoned the vaccine deployment programme. Perhaps we will see Peter Black arguing that the Bristol channel is a better perturbation barrier than the Irish sea ?
Well nobody put the concept of a badger cull before the Welsh electorate at the last election and if they had it would not have won a majority.

The fact that there was a dissenting judge on the ruling that a cull would not make a 'substantial' difference does not make that decision less valid. It is still the verdict of the court and it is more significant than the incompetence shown by Elin Jones over the order itself.

In addition, although the North Pembrokeshire cull was described as a 'pilot' that title was the only similarity it had to such a concept. There was no proper evaluation in place, no control group to compare results against, in fact no data in existence on how many positive tests for bTB exists within the cull area on which a pilot could be evaluated. It was a farce.

Where a proper scientific study has been carried out in England the conclusions of the scientists concerned was that a cull made no difference in the long term and may have made things worse.

A vaccine pilot is still going ahead in Gloucestershire and also in Ireland. If Elin Jones wants to contribute to reducing bTB in wildlife and in cattle then the most constructive thing she can do is to introduce a new order for a vaccine trial in Wales. I will support that.

I will not be supporting a cull put in place by the UK Government in Dorset or anywhere else in England. It would be a mistake for them to take this path.
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