Farmers warn of disaster as badger cull is quashed

Image caption,
Campaigners against the cull said its effectiveness had not been proved

Farmers' unions have described a decision to quash a proposed cull of badgers in north Pembrokeshire as a disaster for farming.

There have also been calls for Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones to resign following the ruling.

The appeal court halted the assembly government's planned cull of around 1,500 badgers to try to stop TB in cattle on Tuesday.

The Badger Trust appealed against the cull questioning its effectiveness.

Three judges announced the trust's appeal against a judicial review which had backed the cull was successful and quashed the order.

Lord Justice Pill said the assembly government was wrong to make an order for the whole of Wales when it consulted on the basis of a Intensive Action Pilot Area (IAPA) which only supported a cull on evidence within the IAPA

Dairy farmer Brian Walters, vice president of the Farmers' Union of Wales, said the decision would have a huge impact on farming.

"The fact it's not happening now in north Pembrokeshire I think is a major disaster for the industry in the whole of Wales," he said.

"In my area and to the west in the cull area, we were looking forward to having some sort of control of the disease and the wildlife... we have incidents of one in every seven badgers with TB on them and comparing that with cattle with one out of 140 cattle with TB."

Stephen James, NFU Cymru's deputy president, said increasing cattle controls while doing nothing to prevent TB in badgers would cause the disease to spread and "wreck the lives of a growing number of farming families".

But Tina Sacco, a farmer in Pembrokeshire, did not support the cull and believes a vaccination programme would be a better option.

"One thing we do know is that a cull has been proved over a 40-year period never to have worked - that's why we're back where we are now," she said.

"Vaccination programmes have been used throughout the world to conquer all sorts of diseases in both man and animals."

'Cull mishandled'

Meanwhile Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black, who was a leading campaigner against the proposed badger cull in the Welsh Assembly, said he believed Rural Minister Elin Jones had "mishandled" the cull "from the start".

"Not only did she get the order itself wrong, leading to this decision [in the appeal court], but she also embarked on a course of action in defiance of all the scientific evidence," he said.

But First Minister Carwyn Jones has supported his minister, saying that the defeat in the courts did not reflect poorly on her.

"It's important that we deal with TB in Wales because it's a problem that is growing," he said.

Under the cull, badgers were to be trapped in cages and shot.

Anti-cull protesters, led by the Badger Trust, argued it had not yet been scientifically proven that badgers are implicated in the transmission of TB within cattle and it doubts a cull would help eradicate the disease.

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