Badger Cull Legal Challenges rulings leave 25,000 more badgers to be killed this Autumn.
The Badger Trust has expressed deep disappointment in Justice
Cranston’s High Court Ruling on Wednesday 15th August. This
finds that the less regulated ‘supplementary badger culling’ is
lawful and can continue to be expanded across England and that
Natural England has adequate monitoring systems to detect
carnivore disruption in protected ecosystems affected by badger
Despite finding that the government has been in
breach of its duties in certain respects with regard to badger
culling, Judge Cranston did not believe these infringements were
sufficiently serious to cancel licences or to stop the cull.
During the Judicial Review, the High Court heard that in
early 2017, Defra Ministers were wrongly told by their officials
that a long-term culling approach was ‘necessary’ when the
proposed supplementary method was known to be untested and might
do more harm than good in the fight against bovine TB. It was
then approved by the current Defra Secretary of State Michael
Gove in July of 2017.
The Court also heard that the Defra
Chief Scientific Advisor Ian Boyd and Chief Vet Nigel Gibbens
supported untested approaches that were ‘adaptive’ or ‘learn as
we go along’ in order to satisfy industry expectations, despite
warnings that any value of supplementary culling could not be
measured in the cull areas.
Responding to the High Court judgement the CEO of the Badger
Trust said: “This judgement pushes aside
serious concerns about failures in the Defra consultation
process for supplementary culling and for measuring the
ecological impact of badger removal on other species and
ecosystems. It also accepts that Defra has now largely discarded
all of the scientific findings from the Randomised Badger
Culling Trial, which cost over £50 million of public money.
By ruling that supplementary cull licences are lawful,
Justice Cranston is allowing farmers and landowners across
England to kill badgers on an open ended basis with little
training or effective independent scrutiny and without knowing
whether or not there is any benefit.
His ruling could now
result in the largest destruction of a protected species in
living memory, with a further 25,000 badgers being killed in
2018 and over 100,000 killed by 2020. This is despite the fact
that government has provided no reliable evidence to prove that
badger culling is having any significant impact on lowering
bovine TB in cattle in or around the cull zones.”
Responding to the ruling, ecologist Tom Langton who was the
claimant in the case, said: “Aspects of
the rulings seem unclear and our lawyers are looking closely at
grounds for an Appeal. The government appears to be able to
develop policy in private with selected industry stakeholders.
It is apparently entitled to choose science or lack of it to fit
the policy of the moment. Key warnings by leading experts have
been sidestepped and approaches seem to match the aims of
economic expedience rather than any real attempt to halt the
spread of bovine TB in cattle.
As a result of the
Judicial Review, Natural England will now have to disclose
details of their monitoring system for the various nature
reserves in and around the cull areas in England. Details of the
recently announced specially planned bird monitoring programmes
now underway for all badger cull areas containing protected
sites, will be of very wide public interest.
have under consideration our challenge of the 2017 badger
culling licences relating to Sites of Specific Scientific
Interest under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. We have
also initiated a challenge against the May 2018 policy plans for
a new kind of approach based on reactive badger culling in the
TB Low Risk Area of Eastern England that in the past has been
shown to make bovine TB worse. This is another disaster in the
I would like to thank the Badger Trust, Born
Free, Badger Groups and individuals across the country who have
donated so generously to get to this stage and to reassure them
that we will continue to fight in the courts and use all lawful
means to bring badger culling to an end in England”
The judgement this week found that the flaws in the
consultation period for supplementary culling in December
2016/ January 2017 were not so great as to break the law.
The cases were brought by Ecologist and Badger Trust member
Tom Langton who has led challenges with support from ‘The
Badger Crowd’, a fundraising coalition including Badger
Groups and Trusts around the UK, the wildlife charity Born
Free and hundreds of individuals via crowd funding appeals.
Many generous private donations have been made and
particular thanks are due to Badger Trust Sussex and The
The legal team are currently reviewing the potential for
Appeal of the High Court judgement and information on this
will be provided over the next few weeks.
Badger Trust is considering moves to challenge the recently
announced government plans to carry out reactive badger
culling in the Low Risk area of England authorised by
Michael Gove in May 2018.
The Sir Charles Godfray review of bovine TB control is due
to report next month and will have considered the changing
approach to badger culling over the last five years.
Judge Sir Ross Cranston is a retired judge and a banking
lawyer, was previously a Member of Parliament for Labour in
Dudley North from 1997. He is a member of the London