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MEP: Badger cull won’t be stopped by Brussels despite challenges

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 22, 2012

  • The flash mob outside Parliament yesterday

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A South West MEP claims there is little interest in halting the badger cull in Brussels despite attempts to invoke a European convention for animal rights and a personal intervention by campaigner Brian May.

Julie Girling, the Conservative chief whip and the party’s agriculture spokesman at the European Parliament, claims attempts to halt two licensed trial culls by claiming they breach the Bern Convention will not succeed.

Free shooting of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset in a bid to control the spread of bovine TB have been approved by the Government, with a third planned for Devon’s South Hams.

Mrs Girling is this week set to meet the European Commission – the executive body of the European Union responsible for proposing legislation – to discuss removing barriers to the future use of a vaccine to treat cattle.

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“We had a visit to the EU by Brian May, but it didn’t stir up any interest among non-Brits,” she said. “It is a British issue and the big issue for us is trying to get a vaccine for cattle, but we need a change to the regulations to allow it to be used.

“I want to explore legal avenues to speed up the authorisation of a bovine virus – it won’t happen overnight, it might be a couple of years.”

As a “flash mob” protested outside Parliament yesterday, with anti-cull demonstrators dressed as badgers, campaigners continue to believe that a key animal welfare committee in Brussels could halt the shooting.

The Humane Society International lodged a “serious complaint” against the UK Government earlier this year on the basis that free shooting by farmers breaches the 30-year-old Bern Convention. Two MEPs co-signed a letter to the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) urging it to give serious consideration to the complaint when it meets next month. But DEFRA has insisted that the pilot badger culls will meet the conditions of the Convention.

Queen guitarist Mr May says he led a campaign delegation to Brussels with Gavin Grant, chief executive of the RSPCA. He said they were warmly welcomed at the European Parliament by MEPs of all parties, who were “90 per cent against culling wild animals and 100 per cent in favour of helping us make cattle vaccination in Britain happen”. He also said Georg Haeusler, head of cabinet for agriculture, told him if a so-called DIVA test, to tell which animals were vaccinated and which were infected, was shown to work, there would be “no reason for us to ban the import of the products derived from your cattle”.

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  • E_Badger  |  October 22 2012, 1:50PM

    Funny how the bits about poor biosecurity, tracking, exchanging of animals of high value for those of low value and swapping ear-tags also mentioned in the EC report hasn't been mentioned yet and what about Mr May's conversation with the Euro MP who indicated that in their opinion there was absolutely no reason as to why the British government could not start vaccination of cattle and DIVA testing straight away, blowing away DEFRAs's "Euro-red tape" argument. Very easy to cherry pick facts to fit personal agendas and yet even taken as a whole the facts AGAINST a badger cull are heavier on the scales than otherwise. Today I read that DEFRA want to increase the number of badgers culled to 80% because of (I suspect fictional) revised estimates of badger population and yet those laying the baits are reporting seeing less badgers around. If this government wants to totally discredit Farmers whilst at the same time starting a class war then they are going the right way about it. I have commented before about the £100 million a year (compensation) figure bandied about by the NFU and yet over the last decade only £30 million has been expended on vaccination research - says it all about this and previous government's attitudes to supporting Farmers and finding "the cure" IMHO. The ConDems are being hardnosed because of all their previous U-Turns, but I would rather see the Pasty Tax return than implementation of a badger culling policy that requires such high levels of policing and tax payer expenditure.

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  • Clued-Up  |  October 22 2012, 1:29PM

    Julie Girling is not a lawyer and her views on what the Bern Convention permits are no more authoritative than anyone else's.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 22 2012, 1:28PM

    The European Commission has warned UK Governments they need to show greater long-term commitment to tackling the problem of bovine TB (bTB) in wildlife. In a report seen by Farmers Guardian, the Commission insists there is 'no scientific evidence' badger vaccination will work, compared with the 'considerable evidence' badger removal will improve the TB status of both badgers and cattle. Brussels officials warn the Welsh TB eradication plan has been 'disrupted' and will 'lose impetus' as a result of the decision taken this year to opt for vaccination over culling. It called on UK politicians to 'commit to a long-term strategy' that transcends party politics and fear of what voters might think. The European Commission co-funds TB eradication policies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to the tune of €32 million a year. Earlier this year, it sent a delegation over to the UK to ensure the money is being spent effectively and should continue to be paid.

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