Badger cull has proved costly flop
Last year, several thousand badgers were killed in Somerset and Gloucestershire in an attempt to show that culling them by free-shooting would be a cost-effective way of reducing bovine TB. This exercise was an utter flop as it failed to reach its targeted objective in numbers killed and the cost worked out at more than £4,000 per badger, most of which fell on taxpayers. In comparison, vaccination by trained volunteers costs only about £300. It is likely that the Government is considering even more inhumane methods including gassing.
The poor badger has been a scapegoat for years of lax and ineffective cattle testing by government and poor controls on cattle movement around the country. By 1990, the country had reduced TB to minimal levels by many years of thorough testing and removal of infected stock.
The problem surged particularly after the foot and mouth disaster of 2001 when all controls were abandoned in the rush to restock farms.
The policy of killing badgers is deeply flawed and flies in the face of reputable scientific opinion. The ten-year randomised badger culling trial which ran until 2007 showed that only one per cent of badgers were infectious.
Badger vaccination projects are springing up across the country, organised by county wildlife trusts and badger groups – including the Somerset Badger Group. It is time to ask local councils to step up to protect our badgers. They have the power to ban culling on their land, as have Brighton, Sheffield, Oxford and Hampshire for instance, and contribute to vaccination projects.
Operation Badger is a national campaign of petitions to councils across England and Wales. There are more than 120 such petitions in a network stretching from Cumbria to Kent and from Cornwall to Northumberland.
You can find your nearest petition by going to www.b-r-a-v-e.co.uk/operationbadger/ and using the drop-down menu. In the south Somerset area the petition is at www.ipetitions.com/petition/protect-south-somersets-remaining-badgers-by.
Operation Badger can really make a difference, I hope readers will sign their local petition today and ask the council to reject culling in favour of vaccination. Our wildlife should not be sacrificed in the name of shoddy politics.
If you require further information, please contact the Badger Trust on 0845 8287878, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let sheep graze under solar farms
As we have an increasing number of solar farms why don't they think of erecting them eight to ten feet off the ground, then animals could graze under them and use them for shelter.
Still time to stand up for our county
Driving the proposals in the controversial Joint Core Strategy is an assertion by our councils that they need to identify sufficient land to provide more than 33,000 new homes by 2031.
They say that government planning rules in the National Planning Policy Framework require them to meet objective-assessed housing needs. They do, but the same rules importantly go on to say "unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this framework taken as a whole; or specific policies in this framework indicate development should be restricted".
A number of local authorities have recently been allowed by government to adopt plans which provide for less than their objectively assessed housing needs. They include a diverse range of areas such as Eastbourne, Mid Suffolk, Reigate and Banstead, Wealden, and West Berkshire, but all include protected land such as green belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Land locally valued by the community must be protected against development. It is not too late to revise the JCS to make it more acceptable. There is still time for the planners and members of the three local authorities to stand up for our county. Gloucestershire CPRE will happily tell them how.
Gloucestershire branch, Campaign to Protect Rural England
Eastern approach hardly welcoming
I frequently travel to Yeovil for shopping and I am always impressed by how much care and trouble so many individuals and groups go to making the area attractive.
However, I wonder if any other readers would agree that the eastern approach to the town, from Babylon Hill onwards is developing an almost post-apocalyptic feel?
It does not encourage visitors to venture in. It seems a great shame when the Pen Mill Hotel makes such an effort to look attractive.
I have written to South Somerset District Council and Yeovil Town Council which have explained that there is a county border near the roundabout and that negotiations to improve that area, including the roundabout itself, have not been successful. However, I'm sure we can do better to encourage visitors to the town, and to help residents enjoy their surroundings more.
If anyone would like to help, they can either write to the councils, or try adding their name to a petition at www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/somerset-county-council-make-babylon-hill-beautiful.
Miliband's EU vow is meaningless
Ed Miliband has ruled out a referendum over the EU unless there are to be any "major transfer of powers" from the UK to the EU. Perhaps Mr Miliband doesn't know that the Lisbon Treaty is self-amending meaning that there need be no more transfers. Basically the EU can now do as it pleases and we can do nothing about it.
Mr Cameron persists in the myth that he can renegotiate and then put it to a referendum but did not Mrs Merkell, Viv Redding and several other EU bosses tell him "renegotiation is impossible"?
Currently (to 2013) the UK is subject to 8,937 Regulations, 1,953 Directives, 15,561 "decisions", 2,948 "legal acts" and literally 73,000 other pieces of legislation imposed by Brussels and none of them have been agreed by the people of the UK, only our "leaders".
Once again we see that the only way to change any of this is to get out of the EU and the only clear choice for this is to support Ukip. Again and again Labour, Tory and Lib Dems say they are looking for ways to gain "power" for themselves; only Ukip is looking for ways to free us from this nightmare.