The Prince of Wales described opponents of a badger cull as “intellectually dishonest” in a letter to Tony Blair advocating culling to tackle tuberculosis in cattle.
Writing in February 2005, to the then prime minister, Charles criticised the “badger lobby” for not minding about the slaughter of cattle which contract the disease but objecting to the killing of badgers.
He urged Mr Blair to “look again at introducing a proper cull of badgers where it is necessary”, warning that the rising number of cases of TB in cattle was the most pressing and urgent problem facing the agricultural sector.
And he pointed to a study in Ireland which he said proved that badger culling was effective in ridding cattle of TB.
“I, for one, cannot understand how the ‘badger lobby’ seem to mind not at all about the slaughter of thousands of expensive cattle, and yet object to a managed cull of an over-population of badgers - to me, this is intellectually dishonest,” he wrote.
The comments were made in letters to Mr Blair dealing with agricultural issues in 2004 and 2005, in which he also urged the then prime minister to support beef farmers and hill farmers “who play a particularly crucial role in maintaining the beauty and the communities of the uplands”.
Charles called for the Government to do more to buy beef from British farmers and urged Mr Blair to reduce the bureaucratic and administrative burden on farmers.
He also raised concerns about the problems facing dairy farmers in the UK, the behaviour of retailers towards producers and the country’s lack of self-sufficiency in staple foods.
Upland farming is a subject he returned to, describing hill regions as “the most beautiful areas of the country which tourists flock to see, and yet they are the most difficult areas to farm and are the most disadvantaged in every way for those who live there.”
Charles said he was doing all he could to help upland farmers, including trying to persuade companies to second people who could help farmers to break “what is, in all too many cases, a cycle of despair and hopelessness”.
The Prince, a keen environmentalist, also congratulated Mr Blair for taking a leadership role in tackling climate change, and said the then prime minister had a great deal of support on the issue.
He added that “all I would say is that you may find it worthwhile to explore not just what industry can do to cut emissions, but also the wider community.
“Energy efficiency could make a huge difference and would engage the public in the whole subject in a way that simply focussing on industry’s role would not,” he wrote.
The Prince also carried out correspondence with environment, food and rural affairs minister Elliot Morley on the subject of illegal fishing and the High Seas Task Force Mr Morley was chairing to tackle the problem.
In October 2004, he wrote to the minister: “I must say it is enormously encouraging to know of your efforts to try and bring to heel the recalcitrant countries who sanction, either directly or by turning a blind eye, pirate and illegal fishing”.
And he added: “I particularly hope that the illegal fishing of the Patagonian Toothfish will be high on your list of priorities because until that trade is stopped, there is little hope for the poor old albatross, for which I will continue to campaign.”
Charles had been raising concerns about the plight of albatrosses for years, thousands of which were dying each year due to illegal fishing, and his concern increased as more albatross species came closer to extinction, Clarence House said.
In the letter he raised the issue of whether the Royal Navy could play a role in tackling illegal fishing and said he was looking forward to the publication of a Royal Commission report on sustainable fishing, writing: “I hear on my own grapevine that it may be quite hard-hitting.”
“Let us hope that between all of us who mind about sustainable fishing, we can make a difference before it is all too late,” he wrote.
Here is a summary of the letters exchanged between the Prince of Wales and government ministers:
• Charles wrote to former prime minister Tony Blair on September 8 2004 to discuss the resources available to British forces.
He said the armed forces were being “asked to do an extremely challenging job (particularly in Iraq) without the necessary resources”.
The Prince of Wales spoke highly of the Army Air Corp’s Oxbow surveillance equipment which he had seen in Northern Ireland, describing it as a “major advance”.
But he criticised the existing Lynx aircraft being used globally to carry it, claiming its “poor performance” hindered the use of the surveillance methods.
Mr Blair replied on October 11 that year, saying that “limitations of the existing platform” were well-known by the Ministry of Defence, and the budget for the coming years included investment in helicopters.
• Trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt wrote to Charles on October 6 2004 about her meeting with the chief executive of the charity he helped set up, In Kind Direct.
In the letters she said she was “unable to help In Kind Direct with their core funding”, but would try to assist by introducing it to other public sector bodies and government colleagues to “leverage more support”.
Charles wrote back on November 8 2004 thanking her for her efforts and saying if there was no success with Corporate Challenge, one of the government initiatives introduced to his charity, the minister might be hearing from him again.
• Charles wrote to Paul Murphy, then-Northern Ireland secretary, on September 6 2004. The prince discussed the future of Armagh Gaol, which had stood empty for 20 years, and offered the help of his charity, the Phoenix Trust, which later became the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, in deciding its fate.
The Prince writes: “I mentioned the issue of Armagh Gaol and suggested that my Phoenix Trust would be only too happy to help with any advice with regard to its conversion and re-use.”
In a letter in reply, dated October 13 2004, Mr Murphy said he was “grateful for the offer of support of your Phoenix Trust in relation to Armagh Gaol”.