Badger supporters hoping for cull review

DEFENDERS of the badger are hoping Labour Party gains from Plaid Cymru in the Welsh Assembly might mean a change of attitude to the plan to start culling this summer.

The Welsh battle to get started on culling, led by former Welsh rural affairs minister Elin Jones, has already been through a series of legal challenges and has been regarded as a pathfinder exercise for a similar operation in south west England.

Labour is now the biggest party in the Assembly, although it does not have an overall majority, and is talking with the others about a new coalition compromise. It was previously junior partner in a coalition with Plaid Cymru.

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Its manifesto promised “a science-led approach to evaluate and review the best way of tackling bovine TB” and the Badger Trust has picked up on the promise of a review. It says it will take the issue back to court if it does not get one.

Pressed by the Yorkshire Post, a Welsh government press officer repeated the Labour manifesto promise this week: “The government will take a science-led approach to evaluate and review the best way of tackling TB.”

Brian Walters, spokesman on TB for the Farmers Union of Wales, said: “Just weeks ago, Assembly members supported the proposed cull by 42 votes to eight. The new Assembly government would look ridiculous if it did not carry forward plans repeatedly supported by the majority of those who have been returned as Assembly members.”

The previous Welsh government was expecting to start culling in Pembrokeshire shortly after the end of this month.

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But the Badger Trust was already planning a fresh appeal against the plan, before the election. And it has written to the new First Minister of the Assembly, Carwyn Jones, saying it will go ahead with the legal action unless it gets a promise of “at least a pause”.

A Trust spokesman said: “Improved testing and cattle controls that have already been implemented in Wales are showing improvements without a single badger having been killed.”