Badger culls court challenge fails
A challenge to culls which will kill thousands of badgers has failed at the Court of Appeal.
The Badger Trust had condemned Mr Justice Ouseley's decision in July to uphold government proposals for two pilot culls to tackle tuberculosis in cattle: one in West Gloucestershire and the other in West Somerset.
The July ruling was welcomed by the the National Farmers Union, the British Veterinary Association and British Cattle Veterinary Association.
But the pressure group said that killing badgers will make no meaningful contribution to tackling the disease, which has been described as the most pressing animal health problem in the UK. It claims that the scheme could lead to 40,000 animals being "pointlessly killed" over the next four years.
Lord Justice Laws, Lord Justice Rimer and Lord Justice Sullivan unanimously rejected the appeal, which was only concerned with statutory construction.
Afterwards, Patricia Hayden, vice-chairman of the Badger Trust, said: "We are very disappointed. We don't know what the next step is, but we will not give up."
David Wolfe QC, for the trust, claimed the two culls would involve killing an estimated 3,400 badgers in each area - each approximately the size of the Isle of Wight - and the long-term intention was to issue licences for up to 10 culls each year. The licences for the culls, due to start later this autumn, would be issued under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, which consolidated provisions from the 1973 Badgers Act.
He said that, in the 1973 Act, parliament put in place a regime of badger protection with limited exceptions, and it was inconceivable that it was providing a power to undertake widespread culling.
Musician Brian May said the fight against culling badgers would continue despite the defeat in the courts. Speaking at a rally in Bristol to launch a new national campaign called Stop the Cull, the Queen guitarist said: "What you've heard is that the judicial review failed. It isn't totally unexpected.
"What you've got to remember is that judges do not review the scientific evidence, they do not review the ethical considerations. All they do is look at the technicalities. The issue was did the Government break any procedural rules? It was a good thing to try and I am not actually very much daunted by the fact it failed."