The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black, has hit out at the announcement by Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, today that she is to lay a fresh order to enable her to cull badgers in North Pembrokeshire and parts of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire from 31 March.
A previous attempt by the Minister was struck down by the courts on three grounds, namely that she had failed to properly define the area involved and thus did not reflect the consultation in the order, that the definition of substantial adopted by the Welsh Government 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.
Mr. Black, who was a prominent opponent of the plan in the Assembly, said that the latest bid to initiate a cull could not be justified: “The UK government's study into bTB, which ran from 1998-2007 and was conducted by the Independent Scientific Group concluded that 'badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of cattle TB in Britain'. Rather than suppressing the disease, killing badgers appears to spread it,” he said.
“The Minister’s decision to introduce this order has been taken despite the fact that other measures she has taken appear to be working. The latest bovine TB statistics published on 18th February 2011 by DEFRA show a significant reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered in West Wales over the last two years. Between January and November 2010, there was a reduction in West Wales of 34% over the equivalent period in 2009.
“There is no indication as to whether she considered the alternative option of vaccination or what weight she gave to it. I will be seeking to overturn this order in the Assembly.”