The Farmers’ Union of Wales urged the Welsh Government to forge ahead with plans to tackle the disease in north Pembrokeshire after welcoming today’s Defra announcement to carry out controlled culling of badgers in two areas of England.
Westminster environment secretary Caroline Spelman revealed the devastating problems caused by bovine TB are to be tackled by a package of measures which include controlled culling of badgers as part of a science-led and carefully managed badger control policy.
She confirmed that policy is expected to be piloted initially in two areas in early Autumn next year. Both pilots, carried out over a period of six weeks, will be closely managed and monitored to examine how safe, effective and humane a method this is.
An independent panel of experts will be asked to oversee and evaluate the pilots and report to Ministers before a decision is made on whether to roll out the policy more widely.
FUW bovine TB spokesman Brian Walters said: â€œFor years Wales was well ahead of England in terms of implementing an holistic approach to tackling bovine TB on all fronts but the Welsh Government’s decision to place plans on hold, pending a review of the science which had already been done, has led to a massive loss of momentum and now leaves Wales well behind England.
â€œThe English and Welsh proposals are very different and, given the hard work which has been put into the Welsh plan, it is essential we forge ahead with our own programme rather than procrastinate.
â€œThe free shooting approach which is to be investigated by Defra has been advocated by bodies such as the RSPCA as a humane approach to pest control, so those bodies which now raise concerns regarding Defraâ€™s plans are being extremely disingenuous.â€
Mr Waltersâ€™ comments echoed demands made earlier this week by FUW president Emyr Jones who also accused the Welsh Government of betraying Welsh farmers by continuing to delay a decision on a badger cull in West Wales.
Mr Jones wrote to Assembly environment and sustainable development minister John Griffiths expressing "extreme dismay" that the decision â€" originally expected early last autumn - is now being delayed until the New Year.
"These continued delays are a betrayal of the Welsh farming industry’s commitment to a holistic approach to controlling bovine TB," said Mr Jones.
Mr Walters added: â€œThe confidence of the farming industry in the Welsh bTB eradication programme is falling away rapidly, and those burdened with the extra costs of cattle controls feel betrayed by the failure to take action against the massive disease reservoir which exists in badgers and is infecting cattle on a daily basis.
â€œThe only way to regain that confidence is for Wales to forge ahead with its original plans to cull badgers in north Pembrokeshire, which all the science shows will significantly reduce bovine TB incidences in the area.â€