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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Tories block publication of report on badger cull

The controversial English badger cull has come under the spotlight again with the Daily Mirror claiming that the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has blocked publication of a major analysis into the slaughter, despite a freedom of information request by animal rights campaigners.

The paper says that the Badger Trust requested details of a cost benefit analysis of two pilot schemes in Somerset and Gloucestershire from 2013 and 2014:

But Defra refused to release the documents, saying: “We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosure of information concerning the badger culls 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.”

In other words they do not know themselves whether the cull has been effective or not. And yet they have extended it to other areas.

The paper adds that the cull saw 588 badgers shot dead at a total cost of £4,459,000, a staggering £7,583 per animal:

The programme began in 2013 and has cost a total of £16.7m so far - including a one-off £2.5m cost for delaying the planned start in 2012 - with 2,449 animals killed.

No wonder Defra do not want to release the official report.
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