'Badger cull order lawful'


A judge has rejected a legal challenge to the assembly government's decision to cull badgers in part of south west Wales

Animal charity the Badger Trust applied to the High Court for a judicial review of the planned cull, which aims to combat bovine TB infection. The cull area would cover north Pembrokeshire, and a small part of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire. Justice Lloyd Jones said the Welsh Assembly Government's order was lawful.
The cull is expected to take place over the next few months. Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones said previously that bovine TB was out of control, and last year cost the taxpayer nearly £24m in compensating farmers. She said cattle and badgers were the main sources of the disease and, to eradicate bovine TB, the disease had to be tackled in both species.

Effect on cattle

There would also be stricter cattle control measures in the cull area. Opponents say it has not been proved that a cull of badgers would significantly contribute to the eradication of bovine TB. Justice Lloyd Jones heard two days of submissions during a hearing in Swansea last month. The assembly government's barrister Timothy Corner QC said there was no dispute about the significance of bovine TB and the effect on cattle. He argued there was a lack of evidence for vaccinating badgers and it had not been qualified scientifically. The Badger Trust's barrister David Wolfe said there seemed to be a different approach to pushing forward with the cull in Pembrokeshire while possibly vaccinating in other parts of Wales at a later date. He also questioned whether the minister had made her decision based on all the facts and all the scientific evidence available.

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