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Government denies talk of a badger cull U-turn

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 19, 2012

Owen Paterson cancelled media engagements yesterday

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Farmers’ leaders and the Government promised yesterday there will not be an embarrassing U-turn on the West badger cull – despite rumours sweeping Westminster.

They were sparked by new Environment Secretary Owen Paterson cancelling a series of media interviews.

Some journalists immediately assumed it was because of an imminent U-turn on the controversial plan to hold pilot schemes to cull badgers in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

There was speculation that the estimated number of badgers in the cull zones was higher than had been thought.

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That would increase costs, because at least 70 per cent of the badgers in each one must be slaughtered, and there were reports that National Farmers’ Union president Peter Kendall felt the cull might now be too expensive.

But an NFU spokesman told the Daily Press last night: “Everything is on track – nothing has changed as far as I am aware, and the policy goes ahead.

“Peter Kendall has not said anything today, he has been in meetings and definitely has not spoken to any journalist.”

The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs also told the Daily Press there had not been a U-turn, or any change of policy.

A spokeswoman said that culling had not started yet, because the final licences have not yet been awarded, as there are still some loose ends to tie up.

It would be the most humiliating U-turn yet for the coalition Government if the badger cull does not go ahead as planned in the West this autumn.

In the past month, Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister have told the Daily Press that the cull is essential and will happen.

And in his speech to the Conservative conference last week, Mr Paterson was cheered by party members as he defended the policy.

He said: “The main threat to our cattle industry comes from bovine TB – last year, TB led to the slaughter of 26,000 cattle at a cost of nearly £100million. A cost that will rise to £1billion over the next decade if this disease is left unchecked.

“Let’s be clear, bovine TB imposes a shattering financial and emotional cost on our farmers, their families and communities.

“This will only get worse if we continue the cowardly policy of inaction pursued by Labour in government.”

Mr Paterson insisted: “We must, therefore, learn from the experience of other countries. We have to use every tool at our disposal. That’s why we’re trialling a badger cull. We need healthy wildlife living alongside healthy cattle.”

The cull has attracted huge protests, with more than 150,000 signing an epetition against it, and Labour also opposed.

There are now an estimated 4,300 badgers in the West Somerset area, up from earlier calculations of 3,000.

The six-week test culls must be carried out before the end of the year, when the badgers’ breeding season begins in the winter.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 24 2012, 10:08AM

    It would be greatly appreciated by all farmers if people would try to become educated to the problem before they make any emotional judgement or comment. Why BCG does not perform like other Vaccines. "In any normal infection the body defence works by production of vast amounts of antibodies. Such antibodies can also be stimulated by ordinary vaccines for all kinds of bacteria and virus diseases and they can be traced in blood which makes diagnosis with various techniques fairly easy. But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do - because the tubercle bacteria have a waxy coat to which antibodies cannot attach. Tuberculosis therefore causes a so called humoral body defence; that means the very slowly multiplying bacteria are attacked by enzymes and white blood cells mainly. These are killing or even digesting the bacteria by a method called phagocytosis resulting in crumbly pus in the so called tubercles - whole heaps or lumps containing several 1000 to billions of bacteria. This defence is much more unspecific and slower than the usual one by antibodies. Any BCG vaccine stimulates this humoral defence only but never prevents an infection; it may keep it on a low scale maybe. There is no other vaccine available and there most probably will never be another one. No matter how many millions more DEFRA invests (I hear of some 30 so far for the Vaccine only) this is nature - which cannot be forced by politics." . . . . . . . . . . Dr Ueli Zellweger MRCVS GST TVL Somerset Dr Ueli Zellweger who is highly respected is a veterinary surgeon with over 30 years experience mainly with cattle and is considered a world expert in this field. Again quote:- "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do." "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do." "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do."

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  • badgerhugger  |  October 23 2012, 2:24PM

    Tuesday 23rd. Government U Turn on badger cull !!!

  • eyeopener  |  October 21 2012, 7:25PM

    A quick look through Google will reveal that the director of Gloscon (the company contracted to shoot the badgers is also a farmer with a herd of 180 cattle in Gloucestershire and a member of the Bovine TB Eradication Advisory Group for England (TBEAG) whose job it is to advise Defra and the government. See Defra document http://tinyurl.com/cf5bkrr and a 'thisissomerset' article http://tinyurl.com/9vw6mb6 Surprise! Surprise! He also runs a B&B at the farm. Anyone seeking to Boycott farms, B&B's and businesses involved in badger culling need only consult Google.

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  • EJANDODIN  |  October 21 2012, 7:03PM

    Wont be going to that B&B then. I wonder if their customers know they are breaking the law? I wonder who they supply so we can boycott them? Badger Trust send letter before claim as cull costs spiral. Government called upon to now do the right thing and reconsider.

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  • eyeopener  |  October 20 2012, 11:33PM

    NO U-turns? Wouldn't that be a first for this government? Apart from about-faces on the "pasty tax" and "caravan tax", we have : 31 May 2012: charitable donations. In the 2012 budget, George Osborne, the chancellor, announced he would cap tax relief on charitable donations at £50,000 or 25% of income. 30 May 2012: buzzards. The environment department had planned to destroy buzzards' nests to protect pheasant shoots. 28 May 2012: pasty tax. Also in the budget 28 May 2012: caravan tax. The budget also levied VAT on static caravans. 28 May 2012: secret courts. A government green paper on keeping evidence from the security services secret was watered down following opposition from the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg. 15 May 2012: Scottish independence referendum. Scottish Tories were furious after David Cameron said he was not "too fussy" about the date of the referendum. 9 May 2012: Joint Strike Fighter. 5 May 2012: unannounced Ofsted inspections. 21 March 2012: video games tax relief. 1 December 2011: Disability Living Allowance. The government announced plans in the 2010 spending review to cut the "mobility" part of DLA, worth £51 a week, for those in residential care, but after criticism that this was "callous", dropped the plans the following year. 23 November 2011: chief coroner. 23 November 2011: Youth Justice Board. The board was supposed to be scrapped in the government's "bonfire of the quangos" 17 November 2011: NHS waiting times. Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, had criticised waiting time targets as unnecessary and bureaucratic 14 July 2011: coastguard centres. The government had planned to reduce the number of coastguard centres from 18 to eight 22 June 2011: BBC World Service. William Hague, the foreign secretary, partially reversed huge cuts to World Service funding by announcing an extra £2.2m a year for the BBC's Arabic Service. 21 June 2011: sentencing discounts. Cameron abandoned plans to offer a 50% sentence discount to offenders who submitted early guilty pleas after tabloid criticisms of "soft justice". 13 May 2011: circus animals. 17 February 2011: housing benefit cut. 17 February 2011: selling off the forests. "We got this one wrong," said the environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, 12 February 2011: Financial Inclusion Fund. 9 February 2011: military covenant. In June 2010 Cameron said a promise of duty of care in return for the military's sacrifices would be enshrined in law. But the armed forces bill eventually published required the Ministry of Defence only to produce an annual report on the covenant. 26 December 2010: Bookstart. 20 December 2010: school sports. 25 November 2010: domestic violence. 16 November 2010: photographer and camerawoman on the public payroll. Andrew Parsons was Cameron's personal photographer before he became prime minister, and Nicky Woodhouse made "Webcameron" videos for the Tory website, but there was an outcry when they were placed on the public payroll when the Tories took office. Cameron defended this as a cost-saving measure, but a few days later decided the Conservative party would pay their salaries. 12 November 2010: rape anonymity. 9 September 2010: NHS Direct. In August 2010 the Department of Health said the NHS Direct service would be scrapped. A month later Lansley said the department just meant the phone number. 8 August 2010: free school milk. 5 July 2010: dissolution of parliament. In what was greeted with delight by the media as the first big U-turn of the coalition, the government's plans to block the dissolution of parliament without the agreement of at least 55% of MPs were altered to allow a simple majority of MPs to trigger such a dissolution. A lot of other ministers apart from Owen Paterson have "insisted there will be no U-turn."

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  • Clued-Up  |  October 20 2012, 4:50PM

    It beggars belief that Cameron or Paterson would allow the press to push out so many articles about a government U- turn on the badger cull unless it's actually happening. I can quite believe they haven't worked out how to present the change in policy and are staying quiet until they do. The badger cull has to start this weekend if it's to be completed by the deadline.

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  • twigcat  |  October 19 2012, 5:12PM

    Perhaps Mr Paterson is developing a 'nasty cough' and that's why he was forced to cancel his media interviews. Now that would be very sad news wouldn't it?

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  • Hareymary  |  October 19 2012, 10:54AM

    Perhaps it was a tad optimistic of me to expect that the Government was seeing sense at last. Has anyone seen the boundaries between the trial cull zones and other areas? These boundaries include rivers, canals, motorways and highways. Why hasn't anyone told Defra that badgers can, and often do, swim very efficiently, cross motorways and roads frequently. I wish it was possible to post photos here because I have two beautiful pics of respectively, a badger swimming across the Avon and a canal.

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