Spelman’s hat-trick of Defra disasters

With the forests sell-off, the handling of wild animals in circuses and now an ill thought-out badger cull Caroline Spelman has shot herself in the foot three times.

Mary Creagh is the shadow environment secretary

Bovine TB is a terrible disease. Last year alone 25,000 cattle were slaughtered in England at a cost of £90 million to the taxpayer in testing and compensation for farmers. In hotspot areas like the South West, the toll on farmers and the rural community is immense.


This is why Labour in government set up the 10-year Randomised Badger Cull Trial (RBCT) to examine the effects of culling badgers, protecting cattle and reducing the transmission of bovine TB.

The final report (pdf) of the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) which oversaw the study stated:

“…the reductions in cattle TB incidence achieved by repeated badger culling were not sustained in the long term after culling ended and did not offset the financial costs of culling.

“These results… suggest that badger culling is unlikely to contribute effectively to the control of cattle TB in Britain.”

Labour’s approach in government was – and continues to be – led by this science. The government’s decision to cull is driven by short-term political calculation. One of their first acts on coming to power was to cancel five of Labour’s six trials into a vaccine for badger TB.

Why did they not give those vaccine trials a chance to work? The government has announced a one-year trial of free shooting of badgers. Free shooting has not been tested anywhere and may not be a humane method. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) estimates that between 50,000 to 90,000 badgers will be culled over the four-year period.

The costs to farmers will exceed the benefits and could even spread bovine TB in the short term as badgers move out of culling areas. So there is no scientific basis for the cull and it may not be effective and could make matters worse.

Professor John Bourne, and six other members of the Independent Scientific Group, wrote (£) to the Times on July 13th to state:

“…there are no empirical data on the cost or effectiveness (or indeed humaneness or safety) of controlling badgers by shooting, which has been illegal for decades.”

There are also public order concerns with a badger cull. The government’s Impact Assessment (pdf) estimates the extra police needed to deal with protesters against the cull will cost £200,000 a year. Defra will take on this extra cost even though the department has been cut by 30 per cent. It is likely that armed police will be required to police any protests as the people carrying out the cull will be carrying guns.

All this extra strain at a time when Devon and Cornwall police will lose 700 officers over the next 4 years. The coalition agreement promised farmers a science-led approach on bovine TB. With these proposals the government has turned their back on the science. The environment secretary has achieved the almost impossible.

With the forests sell-off, her inept handling of wild animals in circuses and now an ill thought-out badger cull she has shot herself in the foot not once but three times. A hat trick unmatched by any other minister.

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45 Responses to “Spelman’s hat-trick of Defra disasters”

  1. neil lambert

    Spelman's hat-trick of Defra disasters: http://bit.ly/n1eAoO by shadow environment secretary @MaryCreagh_MP

  2. mary creagh

    The Govt's plans for a badger cull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD
    #badgercull

  3. Adrian Gillette

    The Govt's plans for a badger cull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD
    #badgercull

  4. Raffles the Badger

    The Govt's plans for a badger cull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD
    #badgercull

  5. Rachel Eden

    The Govt's plans for a badger cull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD
    #badgercull

  6. Paul McGlynn

    Spelman's hat-trick of Defra disasters: http://bit.ly/n1eAoO by shadow environment secretary @MaryCreagh_MP

  7. Michael

    Spelman’s hat-trick of Defra disasters l Left Foot Forward – http://j.mp/qAGqEo

  8. Stacy Harris

    The Govt's plans for a badger cull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD
    #badgercull

  9. Pucci Dellanno

    RT @leftfootfwd: Spelman's hat-trick of Defra disasters: http://bit.ly/n1eAoO by shadow environment secretary @MaryCreagh_MP .@nick_clegg

  10. Jenny Tingle

    Spelman's hat-trick of Defra disasters: http://bit.ly/n1eAoO by shadow environment secretary @MaryCreagh_MP

  11. Robert

    sadly it’s always the badger in the 1960’s we use to gas them, and I would go out all night with a flash light during lambing to shoot foxes and badgers for killing lambs, we shot more dogs from the locals then foxes.

  12. Disaster Bob

    Spelman's hat-trick of Defra disasters http://bit.ly/pncjWM

  13. Jonathan Sadler

    Spelman's hat-trick of Defra disasters: http://j.mp/n1eAoO. Why ask scientists then ignore the evidence. Waste of everyone's time.

  14. Ed's Talking Balls

    I agree.

    Spelman is incompetent and the government is proceeding with mass slaughter of badgers (the word “cull” is used to try and sanitise the practice, so I won’t use it) without scientific evidence that it will improve the situation.

    Very poor all round.

  15. The League

    The Govt's plans for a badger cull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD
    #badgercull

  16. Amanda Proud

    The Govt's plans for a badger cull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD
    #badgercull

  17. Kate U

    The Govt's plans for a badger cull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD
    #badgercull

  18. Say NO 2 BadgerCulls

    The Govt's plans for a badger cull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD
    #badgercull

  19. Dr Jane Evans

    RT @marycreagh_mp: The Govt's plans for a #badgercull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD

  20. Paul Blanchard

    RT @marycreagh_mp: The Govt's plans for a #badgercull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD

  21. Mike Prince

    RT @marycreagh_mp: The Govt's plans for a #badgercull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD

  22. Penny

    The Govt's plans for a badger cull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD
    #badgercull

  23. Jo Warrior

    RT @leftfootfwd: Spelman's hat-trick of Defra disasters http://t.co/un2KXXq

  24. Julia Thorne

    RT @leftfootfwd: Spelman's hat-trick of Defra disasters http://t.co/5r1aJJe

  25. Lancashire Badgers

    The Govt's plans for a badger cull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD
    #badgercull

  26. Sean James

    RT @leftfootfwd: Spelman's hat-trick of Defra disasters http://t.co/BItqGNH

  27. Mr. Sensible

    couldn’t agree more Mary; I cannot believe that the Coalition canceled those trials in favour of this less humane, less evidence-based and possibly less effective method.

    As for your last comment, I think you’re being overly kind to other government departments; health and educations are the ones that immediately leap out.

  28. Disaster Bob

    Spelman's hat-trick of Defra disasters | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/nWxhYr

  29. Hugh Potter

    Spelman's hat-trick of Defra disasters: http://bit.ly/n1eAoO by shadow environment secretary @MaryCreagh_MP

  30. Sarah Williams

    Spelman's hat-trick of Defra disasters: http://bit.ly/n1eAoO by shadow environment secretary @MaryCreagh_MP

  31. Spelman’s claims badger cull is “science-led” are pure bunkum | Left Foot Forward

    […] as shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh pointed out on Left Foot Forward yesterday, scientists do not agree on this […]

  32. Robert Levy

    RT @leftfootfwd: Spelman's hat-trick of Defra disasters http://t.co/9qlfRGm

  33. Badger Protection

    The Govt's plans for a badger cull are wrong – my thoughts on yesterdays announcement @leftfootfwd http://t.co/w6qLqDD
    #badgercull

  34. badgerfriendlyfarms

    @flofflach Actually thats what @marycreagh asked in parliament, don't think Spelman answered her.
    http://t.co/lGJeUa7

  35. June Timmis

    I received a letter from a MP, that I wondered if people knew this that in the past 20 years more, than 50,000 badgers have been slaughtered( I thought they last known badger cull was thrown out) and there has been no meaningful impact on the bovine TB. Its so cruel as well as the cattle culls where do’s it end, when all Englands animal life has disappeared.

  36. Simon_M

    This is crazy. Gangs of armed men roaming the countryside at night? Policed by gangs of armed police? What kind of country do we live in? And this after the horrendous tragedy in Norway. Guns kill people as well as animals. Can Caroline Spelman guarantee that there will be no wounding (or worse) of people or domestic animals? Well, can she? And all for ideological ends. For it will not control bTB. The science tells us this. We need to get rid of this dangerous government.

  37. Caroline Spelman needs to start doing her job properly | Left Foot Forward

    […] with a shambles? After the forests sell off failure, the circus animals ban farce and the badger cull catastrophe, comes Spelman’s unwanted meddling in our nation’s planning […]

  38. Phil Randal

    Again, Spelman claims the badger cull is science led. It's nothing of the sort. Our second piece on it: http://t.co/qbBJFXbl #Defra

  39. Paul Trembath

    Again, Spelman claims the badger cull is science led. It's nothing of the sort. Our second piece on it: http://t.co/qbBJFXbl #Defra

  40. Andrew Tindall

    Again, Spelman claims the badger cull is science led. It's nothing of the sort. Our second piece on it: http://t.co/qbBJFXbl #Defra

  41. Greg

    Again, Spelman claims the badger cull is science led. It's nothing of the sort. Our second piece on it: http://t.co/qbBJFXbl #Defra

  42. Johnny Boy

    Again, Spelman claims the badger cull is science led. It's nothing of the sort. Our second piece on it: http://t.co/qbBJFXbl #Defra

  43. Andy S

    Again, Spelman claims the badger cull is science led. It's nothing of the sort. Our second piece on it: http://t.co/qbBJFXbl #Defra

  44. Rob Trotter

    @SteveTrotter1 RT @leftfootfwd: Spelman's hat-trick of Defra disasters – no evidence to support badger culls http://t.co/g6uEZuWW

  45. James Leppard

    Again, Spelman claims the badger cull is science led. It's nothing of the sort. Our second piece on it: http://t.co/qbBJFXbl #Defra

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