2019-09-18  facebooktwitterrss

NBA Calls for Urgent Meeting over Badger Cull Licences

The National Beef Association (NBA) is calling for an urgent meeting with Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Theresa Villiers, to reset the agreements previously made on the process of applying for badger cull licences.

The call follows the unprecedented decision to turn down the application for a cull in Derbyshire last week, despite it meeting all protocols and criteria. Until last week, every licensed cull area that met the standards, has gained its licence. The number of areas had been agreed before the start, and the process was working well.

Bill Harper

Bill Harper

Bill Harper, chairman of the NBA TB Committee explains,
“To our dismay, the Government has intervened and turned down the application in Derbyshire. The area was well organised and had met all the criteria, including an area of vaccination on its northern boundary adjoining a four-year testing area.”

He adds,
“There has been no explanation of the decision, and the area leaders are devastated that all their hard work has been cast aside for political expediency.”

Working with Natural England, staff groups of farmers in the TB-high risk area put together a licence application meeting all the requirements under the 1992 Badger Protection Act.  In a process taking 12 months, the plan was submitted detailing the area and the commitment from the farmers, covering at least 70% of the area and banking sufficient funds to pay for the work by trained and qualified contractors.

At every stage the management team had been advised by Natural England that the process was on track, and the final sign off by the minister was expected to be a formality. The NBA fears the broken bond of trust will deter others in investing in the planning process, knowing that the politicians could overturn Natural England’s recommendation without reason.

Mr Harper says,
“We will now need to get the politicians decision at the start of the process instead of the end. There are still gaps in the coverage across the High-Risk Area, which is giving more boundary risks which needs to be addressed. A high-level meeting with all stakeholders is imperative if the benefits of all the work that has been done, is not to be reduced.”

He concludes,
“Farmers across the country have invested heavily in this process, providing leadership, organisation, finance and resolution in the face of intimidation. They deserve the full backing of our elected government, whose policy they are supporting. This recent kickback has broken the bond of trust that existed, and action is needed to rescue the process.”


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