0 Huge response to Badger Culling Consultation.

Huge response to Badger Culling Consultation.

Press release

Two reports summarising the responses to the consultation on bovine TB and badger culling were published by Defra today.

The first report summarises 47,000 written responses of which:
· 95% of respondents were opposed to a cull of badgers
· 50% of interested organisations were against a cull
· 41% of interested organisations were for a cull (9% did not give a view or gave a neutral response).

The second report summarises the Citizens Panels (see notes to editors - point 6), which were held to consider the issue. Participants did not reach a decision lightly, firstly because of the lack of conclusive evidence, and secondly because of the scale of impact of a decision either way.

The outcome of these panels included:

  • Through discussion in groups the view was marginally in favour of a cull but with many conditions (see notes to editors - point 2)
  • When asked individually there was a 50/50 even split in opinion for and against a cull.
  • Participants also made clear that it was important that all parties to the debate should be working together towards the solution, rather than against each other.

Animal Health & Welfare Minister Ben Bradshaw said:

"The consultation has been invaluable in helping Ministers hear from all sides of the debate - farmers, conservationists, scientists, vets and the wider public.

This is clearly an emotive subject that strongly divides opinion. But what is clear is that respondents broadly agree that any decision on culling must be based on a sound scientific and practical foundation."

A significant reduction in new bovine TB cases in cattle has been recorded over the past six months. The reasons for the fall are not yet clear but are being investigated. Ministers have said that they will base a decision on badger culling on a sound scientific and practical foundation and are not yet in a position to do this.

We will work closely in the coming months with all interested groups to try to establish a shared understanding of the facts so that we can take decisions that are sustainable and practicable in the long term. We are not ruling anything in or out at this stage. Our trials of potential badger culling methods will continue and we are continuing to consider the organisation and practicability of a potential badger cull.

Notes

1. The consultation on Controlling the Spread of Bovine Tuberculosis in Cattle in High Incidence areas in England: Badger Culling ran for 12 weeks (15 December 2005 - 10 March 2006). Citizens Panels were also held. Two reports have been produced:
· Summary of Responses
· A Report on the Citizens Panels

2. Those members of the Citizens Panel supporting a cull would only do so if it were part of a cohesive, multi-faceted strategy. This strategy must involve:
· Central co-ordination, training and monitoring to ensure maximum effectiveness and to avoid abuse
· The farming industry taking responsibility for better biosecurity and husbandry
· Continued and/ or intensified research into more sensitive testing, a better cattle vaccine and a badger vaccine
· A thorough system for collecting data on bovine TB levels in cattle
· Gathering more conclusive background evidence on number of badgers, number of cattle and the relative effect of badger to cattle transmission
If these conditions were not met, those in favour would withdraw their support for a cull.

3. These reports on the consultation can be found at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/badgers-tbcontrols/index.htm or are available by calling the Defra Helpline on 08459 33 55 77 (Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm) or by writing to or e-mailing Wildlife Policy Team, TB Division, Defra, 1a Page Street, London SW1P 4PQ; btb.wildlife@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

4. Copies of responses from interested organisations (all local and national organisations) can be obtained from, or viewed at the Information Resource Centre (IRC) at Ergon House, c/o 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR (Telephone 020 7238 6712). An administrative charge will be made for postal requests to cover copying and postage. Personal callers should give the IRC at least 24 hours notice of their requirements. Due to security concerns, no individual responses or petitions with individual's details on will be made available.

5. The consultation document published in December and supporting sources can be found on the Defra website at;
http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/badgers-tbcontrols/index.htm

6. Citizen Panels are a method of deliberative consultation with the public. Deliberative research involves providing participants with information, and giving them time and space to absorb information and arguments. Small breakout groups are used to enable participants to discuss and exchange points of view. The principal benefit of using a deliberative approach to consult on complex policy is that it enables participants to reach informed, considered viewpoints at the end of the process.

www.defra.gov.uk

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