Good news from the Badger Trust…
Campaigners were celebrating today as the Court of Appeal handed down judgment finding the proposed Welsh badger cull to be unlawful on all three grounds they raised on appeal.
On 5 July, the Welsh Ministers had conceded the appeal on the basis of one of three grounds: that the 2009 Order which permitted culling in the whole of Wales (even in the many areas where TB is not a problem) was not supported by evidence and was unlawful as a result.
However, the Court of Appeal today ruled that the Welsh Ministers had also acted unlawfully in misinterpreting section 21 of the Animal Health Act 1981 as giving them power to cull if they could achieve a potential reduction in TB which was merely more than trivial or insignificant. They also unlawfully failed to carry out a balancing exercise to weigh up the harm involved (i.e. killing over 2,000 badgers) against the potential benefit (which the Minister’s own model predicted to be a reduction in the rate of cattle herd breakdowns of just 0.3% of farms annually).
David Williams, Chairman of the Badger Trust, said: “We are delighted with this outcome. We are grateful to all the badger groups and supporters whose donations and encouragement made this crucial legal action possible.
“Of all the wildlife organisations the Badger Trust exists to secure the welfare of our native protected species, the badger, and we will continue to do so through lawful means. We are pleased to see that the protection offered by wildlife law cannot be vitiated by political smoke and mirrors and that the court saw the issues so clearly. We also note the court’s criticism of the Welsh Ministers’ failure to reveal their advice without heavy redactions.
“Scientific evidence about the futility of killing badgers to control bovine TB remains exactly the same. Although some farmers may see this judgement as a setback, the massive body of rigorously peer-reviewed literature shows that killing badgers can play no meaningful part in the eradication of bovine TB and that robust cattle measures are sufficient, as demonstrated by the fact that the rate of increase in new TB outbreaks is already starting to slow. We also hope that the Minister will now adopt a strategy of vaccination as a cost-effective, viable alternative.”
Congratulations to the Trust on their victory for common sense. They’ve worked hard for it and they deserve thanks.