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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why the Welsh Government close their minds to the vaccination of badgers

Following my question to the Rural Affairs Minister on her latest proposal to cull badgers reported here, I have now had a more detailed reply from her. in her letter she says:

In my last Ministerial questions I said I would look into the questions you raised about the online response form for the Badger Control Order consultation.


One of the questions posed by the consultation relates to vaccination. In my view there is limited scientific evidence available on the effectiveness of the injectible badger vaccination on badgers and even less on its effect in reducing TB in cattle. In my view, vaccination is not currently a viable alternative to culling in reducing TB in cattle in areas where the disease is endemic. However, I am interested in hearing people’s views, and if new evidence becomes available during the consultation period I will of course consider it.

Consultation questions

I have considered your assertion of bias in the consultation questions. However, I do not accept this assertion. The purpose of the consultation exercise is to canvas views of people, whether they support or oppose the proposed course of action, in order to improve the decision-making process.

It is good practice for a consultation exercise not just to ask whether consultees hold a particular view, but also to ask why they do so, and afford them the opportunities to express their reasons. This is especially true if their view is different to my provisional view.

I have read and considered carefully the evidence and come to a provisional decision. I will need to give careful consideration to all the responses that I will have received before making a final decision whether or not to make the draft Order. There is nothing to prevent a consultee who disagrees with my views from simply indicating that they do not support that view without providing any further explanation.

But it would assist me greatly if people gave reasons for their opinions, especially if they do not agree with what I propose. This is why the consultation questions are framed as they are.

The consultation documents makes clear that people can respond in a number of ways,
either online, by post of by email.

The WAG dept of rual affairs boolet posted out to letterboxes in West Wales asking for a consultation is extremely biased in favour of a cull, as if being deliberately made to dissuade ordinary people from voicing their opinions against the government position.
It should display both sides of scientific arguments and not try to spin the Badger Trust around .
If the Welsh Assembly and the farming unions get their way, it is not only thousands of badgers that will be sacrificed next spring in Pembrokeshire - it will be basic human rights and freedoms. Disgracefully, the militant and bellicose Farming Union Of Wales is now urging its members to back WAG's plans for enforced access to objector's land. It is also demanding the criminalisation of protestors for doing nothing more than "counselling" people against the armed invasion of their property.

It seems incredible that farmers have the right to influence a Government's decision to invade the land of others, using armed contractors in the dead of night, for the purposes of blasting away wildlife. Rather than put their own house in order, they prefer to push for draconian powers that will sweep away basic landowners’ rights, in the service of their jihad against the animals Elin Jones calls "ruthless and nasty".

The Welsh nationalist-farmer alliance in this country is slowing pushing us into a siege mentality more suited to a banana republic, with a vindictive anti-immigrant sentiment barely concealed. All residents of the county have basic rights which cannot be traded away in the service of tribal loyalties.There will be trouble again next spring out in the fields.
Elin Jones is presiding over a Rural Affairs Ministry that continually prioritises the demands of agribusiness and its contractors over those of the wider community, regardless of the social and ecological consequences.

Will she ever enforce basic hygiene? After months of 'biosecurity measures', many public roads in the Intensive Action Area are still covered with a thick layer of fresh cow shit, day in, day out, which is inadvertently spread far and wide by passing vehicles. How can this be tolerated in the midst of an epidemic? Farmers should clean up their act before demanding badger extermination.
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