We'll stop badger cull, Labour tells conference
Labour has pledged to halt the expansion of badger culling if the party wins the general election.
The party, which refused to sanction killing of badgers to curb the spread of bovine tuberculosis when in power, has made its most explicit statement to date on the controversial measure during Labour conference in Brighton yesterday.
Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary also told the Western Morning News she believed two pilot badger culls in the South West would be pulled if – as sources have indicated to the WMN – the shooting is proved ineffective.
Mrs Creagh told delegates in the main conference hall: "A 'One Nation' Labour government won't be rolling out the disastrous badger cull."
FREE Home staging included with your 1% Commission!View details
1% Commission FREE Home staging advice http://www.kerbappealz.co.uk
Terms: Home staging advice given on instruction to sell your property
Contact: 01736 332076
Valid until: Saturday, December 14 2013
TB-infected cows are arguably the biggest problem facing farmers in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.
Most were pleased when the coalition Government backed culling among a series of measures to stop the spread after they came to power in 2015.
But Labour has always argued shooting badgers – which spread the disease – is an ineffective way to reduce herd breakdowns and a greater focus should be focused on vaccination.
The party has now renewed its opposition, and gone as far as saying it would stop the current Government's policy in its tracks.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has promised that as many as 40 cull areas could eventually be up-and-running, with shooting likely to take place in Cornwall and Devon.
But the roll-out is dependent on the success of two pilots, one near Exmoor and the other in west Gloucestershire, which began last month. An expansion depends on whether trained marksmen shooting free-running badgers is safe, humane and effective.
Sources recently revealed to the WMN one of two pilot culls in the South West risked failing as only a handful of badgers are being shot daily.
The total was said to be "well below 100" – a tiny proportion of the 2,000 badgers which need to be culled.
Of preventing any expansion, Mrs Creagh told the WMN: "We've said there will be no roll-out because we do not think it is the right thing to do. We know it spreads bovine TB in the short-term. So it costs farmers more than it would save them. And we know there is a public cost to policing the cull. We've seen that with these culls that have started."
Of fears not enough animals are being killed, the shadow minister said: "We're not getting anything back from ministers as to whether the numbers are coming in right.
"And we'll find out after the middle of November when the culls have ended. Let's wait and see what ministers think of the results, because I think it may be – and I don't know – but Owen Paterson may get advised to stop the culls before we get in Government."
She added: "If what you are reporting is true on effectiveness, then I think it is a strong possibility it won't make year two."
Last week, Farming Minister David Heath told the WMN there is "no reason" to think the Somerset badger cull is not killing sufficient animals but admitted the workload is taking its "toll" on marksmen.
Some 26,000 infected cattle were slaughtered in England annually, at a cost to the taxpayer of £100 million.
Figures released by the Government earlier this year showed the disease remaining at the same level as 2012 – one of the worst in recent history – with a 30% rise in the number of herds infected.
Ministers argue every country to have tackled bovine TB has had to reduce the disease in the wildlife.