Weds 25th July
To our great regret, the motion was voted down on party political lines with Conservatives and a number of Lib Dems favouring the possibility that the Cull could come to Oxford. This despite a very sensitive and measured proposal by Andrew Coles that looked to farmers (and badgers ) best interests. Culling badgers is an expensive, cruel and environmentally reckless distraction from tackling bTB. This is most disappointing in light of both Oxford City Council and the County Council voting against the Cull. Still the fight goes on and it is good to know we have councillors like Andrew in the badgers corner. We will never give in.
West Oxfordshire District Council is to debate the controversial Badger cull at its next meeting on Wednesday 25th July following a motion by Labour councillors.
The motion, proposed by Cllr Andrew Coles (Witney Central ward) and seconded by Cllr Rosa Bolger (Witney East ward), calls on the council to write to the DEFRA Secretary of State urging the government to reinstate the Independent Advisory Panel. The panel was dissolved when it concluded that culling badgers can make no meaningful contribution to the eradication of bovine tuberculosis in cattle and assessed the culls as ineffective and inhumane. The motion also calls on the council to ensure that no culling takes place on council owned land until the advisory panel has completed its review and the government has implemented its advice.
Cllr Andrew Coles says 'Bovine tuberculous is devastating for cattle and so for farmers but all the unbiased scientific opinion suggests that we will never get rid of bTB by killing badgers. To help Britain's farming industry we desperately need the independent panel reinstated and a proper review of how to effectively tackle bTB'. Cllr Rosa Bolger added "The badger cull is the biggest publicly funded intervention in the British countryside in the past 50 years"
The debate follows a decision by Oxfordshire County Council last week to oppose the licensing of the cull in Oxfordshire.
The full text of the motion is: Farming and agriculture play an important and valued role in the life of West Oxfordshire and contribute much to our local economy. With DEFRA now considering extending the badger cull into areas of low-risk, including Oxfordshire, and because all the unbiased scientific evidence suggests that culling badgers makes no meaningful contribution to the eradication of bovine tuberculosis in cattle, which is having such a devastating impact on farming communities, this council resolves to write to the Secretary of State asking that the independent advisory panel be reinstated, and that the extension of the cull be halted until the panel has reviewed the policy on how to tackle effectively bovine tuberculosis. This council further resolves to ensure that no culling will take place on its land until the advisory panel has completed its review and the government has implemented its advice.
Note to editors:
In March the government announced that nine new areas were being considered for licenses to cull badgers. One of the areas was Oxfordshire which is acknowledged as being at low-risk. The licenses allow badgers to be culled between 1st June and 31st January. Almost 20,000 badgers were culled in eight English counties last year.
Campaigners have taken out a Judicial Review against Natural England which questions the processes that the public body followed in relation to the cull. In mid-July a High Court judge will hear evidence from two Judicial Reviews relating to the government's policy of culling badgers in certain areas of the country.
The debate will take place in the council chamber at WODC's Woodgreen building at 2pm on Wed 25th July. Members of the public are welcome to attend.
18th March 2018
Subject: Letter to Michael Gove: ‘Why would you possibly extend the Badger Cull to Oxfordshire?’
Dear Michael Gove
You have recently stated that you want to improve animal welfare in this country, and give greater protection to wildlife and the environment.
Why, then, would you risk political suicide for much of your party in Oxfordshire by permitting Defra to extend the badger cull to this (b TB) low risk area?
Theresa May recently held a finger to the political wind and shelved plans for a new Commons vote on fox hunting. Very sensible: almost a ‘no-brainer’. So why would you suddenly agree for the badger cull to come here? Is there a link to the fox-hunting decision, and a need to satisfy the blood lust of a section of the agricultural community that won’t be swayed by inconvenient facts?
Be assured, much larger numbers of people of every political persuasion will be appalled by the prospect of poorly trained marksmen roaming this county’s lanes by nightfall, killing or maiming truck loads of this harmless mammal so firmly linked to our nation’s history.
The benefits to local farming will be negligible, if any, and impossible to prove (from recent research). The destruction will be incalculable, and further tarnish the reputation of a political party whose name hints at conservation, but whose actions are so destructive.
Parts of Oxfordshire, such as Wytham Wood, are regarded as regarded as a world citadel for badgers, who have lived here for thousands of years. Do you intend these will be slaughtered too? Or will they be spared as a sop to wildlife lovers? You are surely clever enough to realise this would only breed anger and cynicism.
While you are relaxing this weekend and contemplating Brexit and all things noble and British, perhaps Mr Gove you would take a look at a poem you will doubtless know well, ‘The Combe’ by Edward Thomas.
Please spare a second thought for this ‘most ancient Briton of English beasts’.
"Badgers are a keystone woodland species and one of the few top omnivores left in the UK. The impact their removal would have on ecosystems is unknown, but could be detrimental."
"Our concerns mean that we haven’t supported rolling out culls to other areas which may affect our properties, including the cull in Dorset which began in September 2015 and those in Herefordshire, Cornwall and Devon which began in September 2016, and we aren’t allowing culling on our land. This includes not allowing it on National Trust land that is leased to tenants"
"Julia Lofthouse, the Mammal Project Officer with the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust says: “We do not believe the shooting of badgers is ever an appropriate way of controlling bovine TB in cattle."