The cost to the Government of the abandoned badger culls in the West was yesterday put at £1.15 million, as renewed demands to call off future culls were rejected in the House of Lords.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs minister Lord de Mauley confirmed that culling would be piloted initially in two areas next summer.
He added that there had been £750,000 on surveying costs, £300,000 on Natural England’s costs and £95,000 on “humaneness monitoring” in the period leading up to the postponement in October of trial culls in West Somerset and Gloucestershire
Labour’s Lord Hoyle said scientific evidence suggested the killing of badgers would make no difference to the problem, with some “eminent” scientists arguing it could make it worse.
“In view of that will you now follow the policy of the Welsh Assembly and decide on a policy of vaccination, rather than elimination?” he demanded at question time.
Lord de Mauley said he disagreed on the science but that the Government was investing in extensive research, though there were “practical difficulties” with the injectable vaccine, including trapping, cost and annual repeat.
Independent crossbencher Lord Krebs, who carried out a scientific review of the bovine TB issue in the 1990s and has been critical of the Government’s move, asked how the success or failure of the two pilots would be judged.
“Is it not right that the Government should take the opportunity between now and next summer to review all the options for controlling TB in badgers – bearing in mind that not even the most optimistic proponent of culling would consider it is a credible strategy for eradication of this dreadful disease,” he said.
The minister told him that an independent panel of experts would oversee the two pilots to test assumptions about the humaneness and safety of the culling plan.