Tory MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has condemned the coalition for its ‘pathetic’ decision to delay the badger cull.
He says the 11th-hour postponement is going to condemn thousands more cattle to death and cause misery for farmers.
One of the trial culls was due to take place on the Brendon Hills in Mr Liddell-Grainger’s Bridgwater and West Somerset constituency.
He says farmers there will be livid that they will have to live with the threat of their livestock being infected by TB-carrying badgers for at least another six months.
“I can’t begin to comprehend what sort of a shambles at ministerial level has led to this, but it’s clearly a monumental one,” he said. “It’s absolutely pathetic the cull can’t go ahead despite all the preparatory work that had been done.
“This has been on the Government’s agenda for two years. Jim Paice [the former agriculture minister] put in huge amounts of work on this to make sure it was all above board and legally bomb-proof.
“But now we’ve a Liberal Democrat farming minister and at the last minute he’s reneged. It’s totally disgraceful. He’s stabbed farmers in the back.”
Mr Liddell-Grainger said he was astonished at the grounds advanced by the NFU for agreeing to the postponement, which included delays caused by the Olympics, weather, the legal challenge by pro-badger groups – and the results of the latest survey which indicated greater populations of badgers in the two trial areas – the other is in Gloucestershire – than had been expected.
He said: “The survey should have been carried out much earlier so the culling could be of the right scale. And the second is that there’s no need for any survey anyway because you only need to speak to any farmer in the culling zones and they’ll tell you they’re completely overrun by badgers.
"This is nothing less than another 24-carat cock-up by a department whose name now only brings the words ‘organise’ and ‘brewery’ to mind.”