The Badger Trust will take its legal challenge over the lack of independent monitoring of the badger culls currently being undertaken in Somerset and Gloucestershire to the Court of Appeal on Thursday 9 October.
This follows a hearing on 11 September where the Vice President of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal agreed that the Badger Trust had a real prospect of success in its appeal.
The Court of Appeal will be asked by the Badger Trust to find that the Secretary of State for the Environment, Elizabeth Truss, has unlawfully failed to put in place an Independent Expert Panel to monitor and analyse the results of the continued culling of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2014. The Trust contends that the use of such a Panel to oversee the design of data collection, its analysis and interpretation was promised by the Secretary of State while she is still considering whether to roll-out culls to other areas, and there is no lawful reason for the Secretary of State to resile from that promise. Without such a Panel, there can be no proper independent assessment of the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the culling operation, something that would be needed before any lawful decision could be taken to continue with further culls around the country.
Professor Tim Coulson (member of the 2013 Independent Expert Panel) who spoke out against the lack of independent monitoring of the badger culls at a debate hosted by the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild at the Labour Party Conference, welcomed the Court of Appeal hearing saying:
“The Independent Expert Panel’s report states clearly the rationale for ensuring that independent monitoring and the use of the statistically robust sample sizes and analytical methods, as used in the 2013 culls, are followed in further culling exercises. If this scientific advice is ignored then the data collected during the 2014 culls will be insufficiently reliable for assessment of humaneness and effectiveness. This means that farmers, veterinarians and scientists intimately involved in controlling bovine TB will be denied the information necessary to allow them to assess whether the IEP’s recommended changes to the culling process have corrected the failings identified by the pilot culls.”
Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor at Care for the Wild commented on the Court of Appeal hearing saying:
“The refusal of DEFRA Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss to put in place any independent monitoring of the badger culls currently being undertaken in Somerset and Gloucestershire is a national disgrace.
“The Government assured us that the badger cull would be carried out more humanely this year, but within a week of it starting, Secret World Wildlife Rescue reported receiving a dead badger from the Somerset cull zone which had been shot in the abdomen. In the opinion of their consultant veterinary surgeon, Dr. Elizabeth Mullineaux MRCVS, the shot had clearly not been on target and would have been unlikely to result in the badger’s immediate death. We can be certain that this is not an isolated case and many other badgers are being killed by incompetent marksmen in similar ways, which is cruel and unacceptable.
“The caring compassionate British public will not remain silent whilst NFU contract gunmen move though our countryside at night attempting to kill badgers despite serious concerns regarding the level of training, monitoring and scrutiny. It is the view of the Badger Trust that Elizabeth Truss is acting unlawfully by stating at the Tory Party Conference that she will make a decision on the national roll out of the badger cull prior to the General Election, without any independent monitoring of the 2014 culling operation.
“I look forward to the Badger Trust putting this legal challenge before the Court of Appeal on 9 October 2014″.
Dominic Dyer CEO Badger Trust Tel: 07876 596233
Jack Reedy Badger Trust Media Adviser Tel: 07751 731107 / 01564 783129
Archive for the ‘Lancashire Badger Group’ Category
The Badger Trust will take its legal challenge over the lack of independent monitoring of the badger culls currently being undertaken in Somerset and Gloucestershire to the Court of Appeal on Thursday 9 October.
It’s not every day we get to hear some really good news with relation to badger persecution, but here is such a great story, we had to share! In her owner’s words, here’s Ruby’s story…
This is the story of our beautiful Patterdale /Fell terrier, Ruby – who survived against the odds when she had the misfortune to fall into the hands of barbaric badger baiters.
Five years ago we, as a family, were in the fortunate position to be able to offer a home to a rescue dog as a companion to our then only dog, a Patterdale terrier named Tiger who we had re-homed from the RSPCA. We searched the websites of various different rescues between Manchester and Leeds on a daily basis and even had meets with a couple of dogs that we hoped would be the one for us. Sadly, none of these meets worked out so it was back to trawling the rescue websites in the hope of finding a dog that would settle happily into our household.
I will never forget the first time I saw a photograph of a small terrier on one of the rescue sites. She looked so sad, with no fur on her face, blind in one eye and with obvious scarring to her head. This little dog was in our local pound and won my heart at first glance. We immediately made arrangements to go and visit her and what I saw broke my heart.
We were taken to her kennel and saw a shivering, frightened little dog, curled up in a ball and totally shut down to the world with horrific scars to her back legs, head and the rest of her body. Her coat was filthy and stank of her own urine but I just saw a beautiful little scrap of a dog that needed some love and TLC. She had totally lost trust in the human race and it took a lot of time and patience to coax her to the front of the kennel. She tentatively sniffed my hand. Then she licked it. That was the start of her new life as Ruby – named after my favourite precious gem. She came to live with us and slowly her story began to unfold.
The staff at the pound asked us to inform our local Dog Warden that we had given the newly-named Ruby a home. This was the warden who had brought our little dog to the pound and who desperately wanted her to go to a good home before the seven days were up, when she was due to be put to sleep.
This wasn’t the Dog Warden’s first contact with Ruby; she had first seen her in the hands of some well know local hunters/poachers. She had seen them laughing, and taking photographs of her with what she described as “horrific” injuries, but unfortunately they disappeared before she could intervene. It was almost three weeks later that she got a call from the local vet, asking if she could pick up a stray dog that had been “dumped” at the reception desk.
On arrival at the vets, she had severely infected and septic wounds that had been left untreated for a prolonged period of time, was blind in one eye due to an untreated glaucoma and had nobody to pay for any treatment. Fortunately, one of the vets took pity on the dog and rather than put her to sleep, patched her up, treated her wounds and arranged for her to be taken to the local council pound. The dog warden immediately recognised her as the dog she had seen three weeks previously and the pieces of the jigsaw started to fit together.
The vet knew from the marks on the dog’s back legs, which had been ripped open right through to the muscle – and by the nature of the other injuries – that she had been used to bait a badger. This tied in with the people that the dog warden had seen her with.
When we took Ruby home she was a mess, both physically and mentally. She was still on medication and the amount of puncture wounds all over her little body was shocking. We had to take things very slowly as she was frightened of every move we made. If we crossed or uncrossed our legs she ran and hid for fear of being kicked; even reaching for a pen or cup of tea made her flinch and run away. But over a period of time we began to gain her trust. We spoke very gently to her and with a constant supply of love, kind words and lots of treats we won her round.
Just over two months later we noticed Ruby walking in a strange fashion. We knew something was very wrong so we took her to the vet who diagnosed a detached retina in her one working eye. We were advised to take her to see an eye specialist in Penrith, Cumbria who confirmed the diagnosis, which he said had been caused by a trauma to the head – either from the badger baiting incident, or by being struck with a blunt object causing the eye to ‘pop’ and the retina to become detached. The eye had to be removed and Ruby was now totally blind.
We did a lot of research into how best we could help Ruby adapt to her lack of sight. We found that clapping hands, so she could hear where we were; speaking her name before stroking her or picking her up; and putting different textures of mats on the floor, inside and outside doors, all helped her to find her way around her now dark world. Two years later, Ruby needed to have the remaining eye removed; the one blinded by glaucoma, due to non-treatment of her condition. She now had no eyes at all.
Both operations required a lot of nursing but the nights spent holding her in my arms as she whimpered and cried, soothing her and rocking her, were worth it in the end. The pain was gone and she now lives a happy life and will never know fear and pain again.
Ruby has been a member of our family now for five years and every morning she wakes up with a wagging tail and lots of excited barking, as she knows that life is good and every day brings nice things! She is one of the most gentle, good natured dogs we have ever had the pleasure of knowing; her harsh, cruel past has not made her vicious, nasty or unpredictable. The feel of a loving hand and a patient, understanding home brought out her true nature. She is fun loving, happy and just loves life.
We recently had the good fortune to see a person, who we believe was her previous owner, sent to prison for the barbaric act of badger baiting with dogs and this person was also banned from owning any animal for ten years. It is little comfort to the animals that have suffered at the hands of this cruel excuse for a human being, and I often wonder what became of the poor, innocent badger that was involved in the incident with Ruby.
To sum up Ruby, affectionately known as “The Bear”, I say she has the courage of a lion, the face of a teddy bear and a heart of pure gold. We quite simply adore her and we are very proud of how brave she has been and continues to be. She is a survivor and living proof that these dogs, given the chance, can go on to make the most wonderful family pets and see a side of life they have never experienced before.
The Badger Trust has been granted permission by a judge for a Judicial Review challenge in the High Court against the DEFRA Secretary of State Owen Paterson and Natural England. The test case focuses on the Government’s highly controversial badger cull policy.
The Judicial Review will argue that Owen Paterson and Natural England have failed to put in place any Independent Expert Panel for the planned culling of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2014. The Trust contends such a Panel is needed to oversee the design of data collection, its analysis and interpretation. Without this, there can be no proper assessment of the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the culling operation, something that would be needed before any lawful decision to continue with further culls around the country.
The Badger Trust legal challenge has received strong support from some members of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) set up by the Government to monitor the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the badger culls carried out in 2013.
Commenting on the Judicial Review challenge, Ranald Munro, Chairman of the IEP said
“The Independent Expert Panel’s report states clearly the rationale for ensuring that independent monitoring and the use of the statistically robust sample sizes and analytical methods, as used in the 2013 culls, are followed in further culling exercises. If this scientific advice is ignored then the data collected during the proposed 2014 culls will be insufficiently reliable for assessment of humaneness and effectiveness. This means that farmers, veterinarians and scientists intimately involved in controlling bovine TB will be denied the information necessary to allow them to assess whether the IEP’s recommended changes to the culling process have corrected the failings identified by the pilot culls.”
Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor at Care for the Wild welcomed the judge’s decision to grant permission for the Judicial Review challenge saying
“Owen Paterson has done all he can to prevent this Judicial Review case going to the High Court and he has failed. His refusal to put in place any independent monitoring of the badger culls due to take place in Gloucestershire and Somerset over the next few months against the advice of the Independent Expert Panel he set up is a national disgrace.
“The caring compassionate British public will not remain silent, whilst poorly trained NFU contract gunmen move through our countryside at night shooting badgers with rifles and shotguns without any independent monitoring or scrutiny. We know from last year’s culls that many badgers were wounded and suffered long painful deaths in a disastrous operation, which proved a complete and utter failure on scientific, economic and humaneness grounds.
“I am very pleased to see that we have strong support from some members of the Independent Expert Panel and I look forward to joining Professor Tim Coulson in Parliament on Monday 7 July, when we will brief MP’s from all parties on why we believe they should also give their support to the Badger Trust legal challenge.
“I also call again on the British Veterinary Association to show animal welfare and humaneness is their number one priority by supporting the Badger Trust in the High Court.”
Dominic Dyer CEO Badger Trust Tel: 07876 596233
Jack Reedy Badger Trust Tel: 07751 731107 or 01564 783129
We’ve had some fun this week making an unusual Easter Egg for nursery. We thought we’d share it so that we can start a new Easter trend! Badger cubs should be starting to come out from their setts for the first time now so we think this is even more apt!
Click here to see how we made them and have a go yourself! Hope you have fun
There seems to be a lot of tension between us recently, so I thought that I would take the time to write to you, and set a few things straight.
Firstly, apologies for growling at you last weekend, when you walked past my sett. My family is suffering from a lot of negative press at the moment, as well as the devastating news that our home will be destroyed by the HS2 plans, so as I’m sure you can imagine, we are under a lot of stress.
Although we have been neighbours for many years, you are often alarmed when you see me. My friends tell me that this is normal neighbourly-behaviour in this area, but I am not convinced. If only you would be considerate when approaching my home, then this might relieve some of the tension between us. Stampeding towards my family, shouting and raving about TB, is naturally going to makes us frightened and defensive – we’re only badgers!
Like many of your other neighbours, we will probably avoid you the majority of the time. Unless of course your child kicks his football onto our land again – may I take this opportunity to gently remind you that our badger family and sett is protected by law, and that I cannot be held responsible for what happens to that stupid football, should this issue arise again.
Often when reconciling a neighbour, it’s a nice gesture to offer a gift or meal. However, we appreciate that our preference for earthworms might not be something that you share, so we’re always happy to share some fruit or root vegetables with you. However, please refrain from inviting us to dinner too often. Although it might seem like I’m not feeding my children, I can assure you that I am (the greedy madams are always happy to accept more food!), and I would hate for my little sproggs to become a nuisance to you or your other neighbours.
Safety is always an important issue for families, and I find that it’s often a good idea to know how to react in bad situations (however, hopefully this advice will not need to be acted upon *touch wood*) If either myself or my family appears hurt to you, then it’s important that you do not interfere. Badgers – particularly my husband – can be very stubborn, and we may see a helping hand as a threat in times of distress. Like any emergency, it’s best to call for the professionals to avoid further damage.
I find it strange that you will proudly defend your home during troubled times, but criticise me when I try to do the same: calling myself and my family “viscious”, “aggressive”, “nasty creatures”. Perhaps your cause for complain is well-founded; having encountered my children after I have dragged them out of their pits for school, I can imagine that they were not particularly friendly towards you. But rest be assured, we are a peaceful family who prefer the nocturnal hours – had you encountered one of my teenagers at 11pm, I’m sure this would have been a different story.
In response to another popular criticism regarding our “sharp claws” – whilst I admit that I am well in need of a pedicure, this does not mean that I intend to use my nails to claw your face off. Like I said, we are mostly a peaceful family, so long as you respect our privacy.
Most importantly, we just want to raise our family in the best possible environment – just like you.
I hope that we can resolve our differences, and continue to live alongside each other as neighbours. If you do ever see us from afar, please feel free to say hello (from a distance) – we won’t bite!
Mrs Betty Badger
Wife of Barry Badger and mother to Bobby, Brady and Billy.
Sett 13, Woodlands, Riverside lane, Cumbria
“It’s a huge honour to become the CEO of the Badger Trust at such a critical time. For too long badgers have been exploited, abused and killed and I look forward to leading the Badger Trust and working with its thousands of supporters across the country. The ultimate aim is to help find a long term solution to reducing bovine TB, which is both good for farmers but also provides these wonderful animals with the long term protection which they truly deserve.”Dom DyerBadger Trust Chairman David Williams said:
“The Badger Trust has the knowledge, experience and support to ensure that badgers will always have a voice. With the appointment of Dominic we’ve ensured that their voice will be heard loud and clear, from the countryside to the corridors of power. Dominic is immensely knowledgeable and has proved himself a powerful advocate for all wildlife we’re delighted to have him on board. We are pleased that Dominic will be able to continue with his role as policy advisor for Care for the Wild his excellent work on subjects such as international wildlife crime, will sit alongside his work for us”.
Commenting on the appointment, Care for the Wild CEO Philip Mansbridge said: “We’re delighted that Dominic will be leading the Badger Trust at such a critical time for badgers, and equally delighted that he’ll continue working with Care for the Wild.
Dominic’s appointment heralds a unique partnership between two great charities, allowing us to both push forward separately with our specific aims, and together in the defence of badgers.” Mr Dyer’s appointment has also been welcomed widely by those opposed to the cull and wildlife campaigners in general. Brian May, Queen guitarist and founder of the Team Badger movement, said: “Dominic’s work in the last two years, speaking up against the persecution of British Wild Animals, has been an example and inspiration to us all.” TV nature expert Chris Packham said: “Dominic is a great champion, orator and naturalist. With his appointment we can be sure that the Badger Trust will exercise the force required to finally put an end to this sorry and sad affair.” Nature broadcaster and President of the Wildlife Trusts Simon King, said “With Dominic’s experience and knowledge I truly hope the Government and the NFU will engage with the Badger Trust and other conservation organisations to help farmers tackle bovine TB without resorting to killing our native wildlife” Actor and conservationist Bill Oddie paid his own tribute saying “Dominic Dyer is the man you want speaking on your side. Especially if you are a badger.”
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith said: “I very much welcome Dominic’s appointment as CEO of the Badger Trust. His campaign against the cull has been passionate, methodical and relentless, and that vigour is more important now than ever.” Huw Irranca Davies MP (Shadow Environment Minister), said: “Dominic has been a consistent and powerful voice for evidence-based policy, supporting vaccination as an alternative to the government’s failed badger culls.” Natalie Bennett Leader of the Green Party who visited the cull zones last year said, “Dominic is a powerful advocate for wildlife and has worked tirelessly in the campaign against the badger cull and I look forward to working with him in his new role.” Former Defra advisor and scientist Dr Chris Cheeseman said: “The Badger Trust is an organisation with a pivotal role in facing this threat and it is welcome news indeed that Dominic will be taking the helm to help re-establish a sustainable, truly science led policy to tackle bovine TB.”
Adrian Coward, of the Somerset Badger Group, said; Dominic’s experience, in-depth knowledge and natural ability to inspire and enthuse the public by exposing the truth with clarity and understanding, will be a great asset and timely boost to help the Badger Trust combat the threatened extension of the badger culls.’’ Dave Purser, Farmer, Cotswolds, said: “Dominic’s expertise in wildlife and conservation issues coupled with a career background in government and agriculture makes him an ideal champion, not only for the badger but also for badger-friendly farmers like ourselves. Dominic’s skill at public speaking is well known so woe betide proponents of the badger cull when faced with future public debates with him on the subject – a prospect we savour.”
The event was well attended with the kids all enjoying and hopefully being inspired by nature.
Our own Andy Hardman managed to captivate his young audience with a talk about the mysterious comings and goings of badgers and how they fit into the world at large.
Lancashire Badger Group have, however decided not to set up any local petitions at this stage for the following reasons;
- Lancashire is not a bTb hotspot and is currently listed as a low risk area in government consultation. These areas are not listed as likely to be part of the cull roll out at the present time. Culling badgers is costly and ineffective at best, never mind in areas where a significant wildlife reservoir is lacking.
- As a result of the above, tb is not considered to be an issue in the badger population and we want to distance ourselves from the view that if culling is a danger in Lancashire, it must be because badgers have tb. A recent freedom of information request* revealed that no badgers have tested positive for tb in Lancashire. Lancashire IS a hotspot for crime and persecution of badgers, we are concerned that the widespread belief that badgers have tb may make this situation worse, as the cull in the South west already appears to be doing.
- We may find in the future that there is the potential for a cull in Lancashire. We are concerned that if the petitions are set up now they will not gain sufficient support given the low chance of a cull being rolled out here at present. This will then mean that when we are likely to gain most support we may not be able to set up a similar petition as it has already been done. We WILL look again at setting up petitions across the county if this happens.
We do strongly support the promotion of petitions across the country already set up and will do everything we can to help.Please see the below petitions for Lancashire. They are out there now so please do sign them so that the debate can happen and the right decision be made.
Link Here to website
LCCPetition for downloadable version.
If you would like to set up your own petition please go to BRAVE.
*FOI requested data between 2009 and end of 2013 for badgers tested within Lancashire.
This year we bought two more rescue cages and handling equipment to go with the two we already have.
That means that if needed, we can get to an injured badger faster!
To go with the cages and handling equipment we need some extra items to help with each rescue, just in case!
We need some of the following things;
- A pair of pliers – to rescue snared badgers.
- Cleansing wipes, hand sanitiser, gloves and first aid kits for volunteers.
- A water bowl.
- A hot water bottle to keep a shocked animal warm.
- A warning triangle in case of an RTA
- A torch – because a rescue in the dark can be difficult!
We’ve created an Amazon Wishlist of items, if you can help us with a small purchase we would be very grateful!
OCTOBER 23, 2013
1. Chair thanked everyone for joining the teleconference which had been convened at
Board members’ request to consider the latest developments in relation to the badger cull. The Chair confirmed that a letter had been received from the Badger Trust on 18 October 2013. The Chair reminded the Board that it should not to be influenced by any external pressures. He also reported that he had not met the Secretary of State to discuss recent developments on the cull. The Chair confirmed that there was a decision to be taken today on whether the Board was content for the delegation of the licensing decision to grant a licence to extend the cull in Gloucestershire to remain with the 2
Executive as provided for in the Scheme of Delegation or whether it wished to revoke the delegation and for the decision to be made by the Board.
2. At Chair’s invitation, Andrew Wood, Executive Director Science, Evidence and Advice (AW) proposed the following framework for the discussion.
2.1 First, a general update on the badger culling pilots, and details of the decision he was minded to take in response to the application to extend the culling period in the West Gloucestershire pilot.
2.2 Second, a discussion and Board decision on whether or not to revoke the delegation of the licencing decision. If the decision was to leave the level of delegation unchanged, AW would take the decision. If revoked, AW would remind the Board about the policy framework in which it would have to reach its decision.
2.3 Finally AW would set out the next steps depending on the Board decision.
Update and minded to decision
3. AW reported:
3.1 A new licence had been issued for a three week extension of the culling period in Somerset. The decision had been based on the original policy framework and the additional advice received from Defra including the Chief Veterinary Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser’s advice and the views of the Secretary of State. The supplementary licence for Somerset required the licence holder to increase its cull numbers from just under 60% to 70% of the estimated badger population.
3.2The letter from the Badger Trust’s lawyers had been shared with the Board. Natural England was currently drafting a response to the letter. The Natural England response would be reviewed in the light of the Board’s decisions today.
3.3 In Gloucestershire, approximately 30% of what was now estimated to be the badger population had been culled by the end of the six week period. An application had been received for a new licence which would extend the culling period by a further eight weeks. In considering the licence application AW had considered:
· The policy framework, and further advice from Defra, within which Natural England was asked to take its decision.
· The balance between the risk of any further perturbation effects and potential benefits from any further disease control from further culling. AW advised that the science was uncertain and did not give a definitive answer. A judgement based decision had to be made. The key to Veterinary Officer (CVO).
· Issuing a licence subject to conditions that were practical and achievable.
3.4 AW had considered three options. These were to:
· refuse to issue a new licence;
· issue a licence on the same basis as for Somerset, restating the 70% target and requiring the company to achieve it;
· issue a licence but look for a practicable minimum target that would achieve disease control benefits.
3.5 AW had concluded that a 70% target for an extended cull was not realistic in Gloucestershire even with more contractors and equipment available because the weather and winter lethargy would affect the numbers taken; an 8 week extension would take the cull beyond the 30th November when the open season for cage trapping ends and the experience in Somerset was that the number of active badgers and number culled was diminishing.
3.6 AW referred to the paper that had been circulated to Board members earlier that morning which contained an analysis of the minimum target number. He pointed out that the analysis concluded that around 540 was a practical number of badgers to be culled in Gloucestershire in any extended period. AW also referred to the CVO advice that it was reasonable to expect that the proportion of badgers culled in Somerset in the six week cull period was sufficient to result in a net disease control benefit and pointed out that if a number of about 540 badgers was to be removed in Gloucestershire it would bring the total proportion removed in Gloucestershire close to the proportion culled in Somerset in the six week period. AW advised that he had therefore concluded that there was a balance of advantage in continuing the cull in Gloucestershire and on that basis he was minded to grant a licence to allow the cull to continue.
4 In response to the Chair’s invitation for questions and observations, the following issues were discussed.
the weight being given to the advice from the CVO, whether there was a need for further independent advice and whether this was available;
the meaning of “having regard to” in relation to the published Guidance and the further CVO and CSA advice that had been received from Defra in light of the evolving picture from the pilots;
· Natural England’s role in considering the licence application; and whether it was part of its role to consider the efficacy of the pilot. The Board were advised that it was the Executive’s view that this was a matter for the independent panel;
· the fact that the current circumstances departed from those of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) and it was difficult to predict, therefore, what the disease control benefits would be;
· the fact that parts of Gloucestershire had not been accessible during the 6 week cull period due to protester activity but that plans were afoot to facilitate culling in these areas if the cull period was extended; and
· the number of badgers that needed to be culled to achieve, according to the CVO’s advice, a disease control benefit and what would happen to monitor progress.
4.1 AW advised that Natural England’s responsibility was to take a view on whether there should be an extension to the culling period in Gloucestershire in light of the application that had been made. Based on the evidence, the published Guidance and the CVO’s advice that was available the judgement to be made was whether extending the cull would lead to a benefit in disease control when weighed against the effects of perturbation.
Individual Board Members made the following comments as part of this debate.
4.2 Catherine Graham-Harrison (CG-H) expressed concern about the weight being given to the advice from the CVO and expressed the view that independent advice should have been sought. AW advised that Natural England had to have regard to the CVO’s view and that Natural England did not have the equivalent veterinary expertise. AW also commented that in the timescales available it was not possible to source other independent advice and that in any event the CVO was there to provide impartial advice.
4.3 David Macdonald (DMac), Manager of Regulation Delivery,said that on the basis of his experience, his personal opinion was that the CVO’s advice that killing further badgers would lead to better disease control was not easily reconciled with the evidence. He was also puzzled by the omission of mention of the Reactive treatment of the RBCT which offered an instructive example of the consequences of killing about 30% of the badgers, the situation created by the trial thus far in Gloucestershire. Therefore, he concluded that in his opinion the CVO’s advice was a less than perfect basis for deciding upon the likely consequences for disease control by extending the trial. DMac also commented that the current circumstances were novel and departed from the RBCT to such an extent that it was hard to predict the likely outcome but that insofar as the evidence of the RBCT could be extrapolated it led him to the opinion that an extension of the culling period in Gloucestershire was unlikely to lead to disease control benefits. He referred to the evidence base from the RBCT where the reactive cull (30% badgers culled) had led to a net worsening of the incidence of Bovine TB, and the proactive cull (70% of badgers culled) that had led after several years to a small net gain in the rate of increase of the disease. He identified the question that needed to be addressed as being: what was the tipping point between 30% and 70% to achieve a net gain? He was told that the number achieved in West Somerset was approximately 58% and that the CVO advice had been that it was reasonable to expect that this was sufficient to achieve a net disease control benefit. DMac asked how this number had been calculated and was told that Natural England had asked Defra the question but received no answer. DMac did not feel that the CVO’s advice had been helpful in this regard. Furthermore in DMac’s view the tipping point was, on the basis of the RBCT experience, likely to be higher the longer the culling period was prolonged and worse as winter progressed.
4.4 Doug Hulyer (DHu), Director Regulation, asked for further clarification on the account taken of the RBCT results in the decision making process. Officers confirmed that in reaching their decision they had taken account of the Policy and Guidance set by Defra and the supplementary advice from the CVO and the views of the Secretary of State that had recently been received. They confirmed that they had also taken into account the RBCT evidence. They stated that the proposal to grant a licence was based on judgement because of the different circumstances from the original RBCT. Officers also commented that the RBCT reactive trials were not directly comparable because they were undertaken where there were known Tb herd breakdowns and that was not the case in Gloucestershire and therefore it could not be said that you would get the same negative results as in the RBCT reactive trials.
4.5 At this point Dave Webster, (DW) the Chief Executive, left the meeting.
4.6 The Chair commented that he understood the cull had been patchy in Gloucestershire and he asked if that had an impact on the decision. AW confirmed that this had been considered as had the measures that it was proposed would be put in place if the cull period were to be extended. Officers’ advised that during the 6 week period part of the Gloucestershire culling area had been inaccessible due to protester activity. The range of measures agreed to allow increased access during any extension was noted by the Board.
4.7 David Hill (DHi) commented that he had an open mind as to the way forward. He recognised that a 70% target may not be achievable in Gloucestershire and that it was necessary to find the right balance. He was more concerned to know if pressure had been applied to force the Executive to reach this decision. AW confirmed that no pressure whatsoever had been applied.
4.8 AW explained that it was important that the Board understood that any decision taken had to be taken having regard to the policy framework that existed and that if the Board wanted to depart from the Department’s advice then in doing so the Board could not take account of immaterial considerations such as Natural England’s reputation. DMac asked if confidence in achieving disease benefit was a material consideration. AW confirmed that it was. DMac repeated that he personally did not have that confidence.
4.9 In response to a question about what would happen if cull numbers were not reached AW advised that Natural England would be informed of the numbers of badgers being culled and if a licence was granted it would require weekly reporting of culled numbers. These reports would be assessed and the practicality of achieving the cull re-assessed. AW confirmed that if Natural England formed the view that too few badgers were being culled it had powers to revoke the licence. DMac commented that he found it hard to understand how further trials could be licensed following the failure of the licence holders to meet the original criteria and the lack of evidence on the disease consequences of extensions.
4.10 Both Joe Horwood (JH), Head of Legal Services, and Nigel Reader, (NR), Principal Specialist, Species Regulation commented that they recognised the difficult position with regards the science and not knowing for certain what the tipping point was where disease control benefit was certain but, having listened to the comments that have been made and recognising that it was clear that Gloucestershire may not achieve the 70% target they felt that the proposal that AW was making was the right one. JH further commented that he was concerned about monitoring the cull once it started again to ensure that Natural England had a protocol for deciding whether to revoke any licence granted.
Consideration of the delegation of the licensing decision
5.1 The Chair invited AW to set out the position.
5.2 AW confirmed it was the Executive’s view that this was a decision for AW but recognised that the Board could decide to remove the decision from AW. He identified the options available to the Board:
(i) to leave the delegation unchanged;
(ii) to revoke the delegation in order to take a decision on this licence application;
(iii) to revoke the delegation in so far as it pertains to anything further in relation to the West Gloucestershire pilot;
(iv) to provide for all licensing decisions in respect of Bovine TB to be taken by the Board;
(v) to revoke the delegation of all wildlife licensing decisions to officers. AW advised the Board not to take this course of action as it was undertaken currently by 80-90 staff handling approximately 10,000 licence applications each year. His advice was that these were not decisions that needed to be taken at Board level.
5.3 AW assured Board members that they would be supported in their additional responsibilities if a decision was taken to revoke any delegation to officers.
5.4 The Board decided by a majority that it did not wish to remove the decision from the Executive.
5.5 In considering the question of whether this particular or any future licensing decision should be retained by the Board the following matters were discussed and agreed:
· The Scheme of Delegation had delegated wildlife licensing decisions to officers. Whilst decisions would normally be taken at adviser level AW had decided that on this occasion, in light of the controversial nature of the decision, the decision would be taken by himself as the relevant Executive Director. This was in line with the guidance underpinning the Scheme of Delegation.
· The clear expectation and normal approach was for the Executive to take decisions delegated to it by the Board and that the Board would stand behind those decisions.
· It was perfectly proper, and in line with the recently revised Scheme of Delegation guidance, for the Executive to consult the Board on controversial decisions such as this.
· If the Executive was not minded to refer the decision to the Board the Board still had the powers to remove the decision from the Executive and take the decision itself.
5.6 The Chair referred to the fact that Will Cockbain (WC) was unable to attend the teleconference but had sent a text to the Chair in which he had indicated his support for extending the cull. In discussion other Board members put forward the following individual observations.
5.7 CG-H contrasted the Board retained authority for Sites of Special Scientific Interest decisions with delegation for cases such as this. She commented that the view outside Natural England seemed to be that such decisions should be, and indeed were, those of the Board. She was concerned that there would be an assumption that this licence decision would be made by the Board.
5.8 Andy Wilson (AWil), Secretariat, questioned the need to remove the decision from the Executive as he felt the decision could simply be escalated to the Board by the Executive as had previously been debated.
5.9 NR, Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee, confirmed that he was content with the process of escalation and the offer to the Board on where the decision should rest. He also commented that with a SoD in place and working well, the Board always had the option to reverse delegation levels, and that in the current circumstances he saw no reason why this process needed to be changed. He had confidence that contentious cases would be brought to the Board’s attention as was happening here.
5.10 JH and DHi, both commented that if the decision was being taken within the policy framework then the analysis takes you to the same point that the Executive had reached. Their view was that the decision should be left with the Executive and if they were minded to grant a licence then that decision should be supported.
5.11 DMac also commented on the fact that if the decision was being taken within the policy framework and on the basis of the CVO advice the Board could only reach the same decision making it pointless to rescind the delegation. AW advised that in fact it was possible to construct an argument for any one of the three options that he had outlined at the beginning of the meeting and as part of that analysis you had to balance the risk of perturbation against the disease control benefits.
5.12 CG-H’s view was that all decisions relating to Btb licensing should be taken by the Board. AWil stated that he agreed with CG-H that the decision should be a Board one, but believed it was not feasible to take a sound decision on it at this teleconference.
5.13 In terms of follow up action the Chair and NR (in his capacity as ARC Chair) agreed to discuss ways of providing further clarity over the SoD and a process for bringing contentious issues to the Board.
6 AW thanked the Board for its decision and stated that it now fell to him to reach a decision on whether to grant a new licence to allow the cull to continue in Gloucestershire for 8 weeks. AW confirmed that having listened to the Board‘s discussion and considered all the points that were made, and taking account of all the advice and Guidance that Natural England had received, he remained of the opinion that a licence should be granted to extend the culling period for a further 8 weeks in Gloucestershire with a minimum target being set of 540 badgers to be culled in the 8 week period.
6.1 DMac asked for his sense of ill ease to be recorded in light of his particular position of having worked professionally in this area. He commented that AW had identified that the main source of evidence for reaching the decision had come from the CVO advice, which in DMac’s view was not comprehensive. He was deeply concerned that ‘advice’ from Defra officials should have such a determining effect on the decision. He stated that whilst fully understanding and respecting arguments that led to the decision, he had personally arrived at the conclusion that an extension in the culling period would not lead to a worthwhile gain for farmers. Some other Board Members also expressed their unease. CG-H asked that it be recorded that she remained unconvinced by the case made that the granting of the new licence was likely to result in achieving a cull level that would lead to an improvement in outcomes in respect of the incidence of bovine tuberculosis. DHu also expressed unease, noting that the decision of officers, and therefore of the Board, had been limited by the policy framework set by Defra and the advice of the CVO. Personally, he was totally convinced by, and in agreement with, the opinion and advice of David MacDonald, the Chair of NE’s Science Advisory Committee and wished this to be recorded in the minutes. AWil said that on balance – and aware that all information was in front of the Board – he believed the evidence suggested that the request could make control worse and thus disagreed with the Executive decision.
7 A reply would be sent to the Badger Trust’s lawyers. Board members would receive a copy.
8 The licence would be issued that day including the insertion of a novel condition to provide weekly reports to be used to monitor progress.
9 Communications would include:
· The outcome of the Board’s discussion would be communicated in the minutes.
· A press statement would be made and the decision shared with staff and key partners.
· 10 In response to requests for clarification about information in the public domain, it was confirmed that the advice Natural England had received from Defra had been placed in the House of Commons library and therefore was effectively already in the public domain.
Chair closed the meeting by recording the Board’s thanks to officers who were working under extreme pressure but with great diligence.