Police deployed in Gloucestershire over Badger cull ‘concerns’
26 August 2013 Last updated at 21:19 BST (2019Z GMT/UTC)
Police officers have been sent to parts of Gloucestershire to “provide reassurance” after speculation that a pilot badger cull could soon begin.
However, Gloucestershire Police has confirmed its planned response to the cull had not yet been activated.
Pilot culls are being trialled to tackle TB in cattle and will run over a six-week period in parts of west Somerset and west Gloucestershire.
The cull in two pilot zones could begin as soon as Monday night.
It is thought the cull could start in West Somerset, around Taunton and Minehead. A further cull is expected in West Gloucestershire by the end of the week.
Gloucestershire Police said media and social media speculation had led to some concern in local communities.
“As a result, we will be deploying a proportionate policing response in Gloucestershire over the Bank Holiday weekend to provide reassurance to those communities and minimise any potential disruption to their lives,” a spokesperson said.
“This is in keeping with our commitment to deliver an effective local policing service before, during and after the proposed cull.”
Campaigners have fought the plans since the test areas were revealed last year. They argue a cull is inhumane and ineffective in controlling the disease in cattle.
On Monday, around 100 protesters wearing badger masks held a candlelit vigil in Minehead.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said the cull is necessary and, carried out in the right way, can make a meaningful contribution to controlling TB.
Elsewhere, Jay Tiernan – a spokesman for the Stop the Cull group – has been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass at the Defra-run Aston Down Wildlife Unit.
The unit does not fall within the pilot cull zone, which covers part of the west of the county.
Mr Tiernan was named in a High Court injunction that was granted last week to restrict some protests.
In pursuing the badger cull, the government is being anti-science
The cull will be bad for farmers, taxpayers and wildlife, and most of all it flies in the face of scientific evidence
“The Tory-led government’s controversial badger cull is set to begin on Monday night. Despite widespread protest and a national petition with more than 250,000 signatures, David Cameron is determined to push ahead.
This policy is completely out of touch. The public and scientists are united in their opposition. The cull flies in the face of the scientific evidence.
In October 2012, an extraordinary coalition of leading scientists called on the government to stop the badger cull. They stated: “As scientists with expertise in managing wildlife and wildlife diseases, we believe the complexities of tuberculosis transmission mean licensed culling risks increasing cattle TB rather than reducing it.” Lord Krebs, the eminent Oxford scientist who designed the Labour government’s badger cull trials, described this cull as “mindless”.
Bovine TB is a terrible disease and has to be brought under control. In 2011, 26,000 cattle were slaughtered, costing us £90m in testing and compensation. This is a massive animal disease challenge. The pressure it puts on farmers and their families is chronic, intense and costly, both financially and emotionally.
Labour’s badger culling trial – a £50m, 10-year study on whether culling badgers helps reduce bovine TB – concluded: “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 led by that science. We supported the development of a badger vaccine. Yet the government cancelled five of the six badger vaccine trials.
A cull will be bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife. The government’s own analysis says that it will cost more than it saves, put a huge strain on police given the expected protests, and will spread bovine TB in the short-term as badgers are disrupted by the shooting.
The taxpayer-funded policing costs are £4m for just the two cull areas. If the cull is rolled out to 10 new zones each year, these costs will balloon.
To bring this disease under control, we need stricter management of cattle movements and to prioritise badger and cattle vaccination. We should be building alliances in the EU to get restrictions on vaccinating cattle lifted.
The government should stop, listen to the scientific evidence and abandon the cull. Bovine TB is a terrible disease that must be stopped. This cull is not the way to do it.” – Mary Creagh theguardian.com, Monday 26 August 2013 07.00 BST
Police ready as badger cull set to begin
Protesters, activists and police are on standby as badger cull is set to begin tonight.
Farmers fear militant protesters will descend on the county and Somerset, where more than 5,000 badgers are due to be shot over two months.
It comes as activists said this weekend they would make the cull “impossible” by using military-style tactics.
The National Farmers Union was granted injunction on Thursday restricting the movement of protesters after it claimed farmers had been subject to harassment and intimidation.
It means campaigners are banned from going within 100 yards of farmers’ homes and 25 yards from their businesses and from making excessive noise or preventing people entering and leaving the sites.
Jay Tiernan, who speaks on behalf of the Stop the Cull group, said around 100 people will be patrolling the cull zones in Gloucestershire and Somerset every night.
It is thought the cull could start tonight.
A spokesman for Gloucestershire Constabulary said today: “The proposed pilot badger cull is managed by Natural England under license from DEFRA. In Gloucestershire, the cull will be undertaken by a private operating company.
“It will be up to them to determine where and when it starts.
“Gloucestershire Constabulary has been planning its response to the cull since it was first announced.
“This response – Operation Themis – is aimed at keeping all our communities safe and feeling safe, dealing with any with any incidents of crime and public disorder and facilitating people’s rights to protest. Our role will to be operationally independent, impartial, even-handed and fair to everyone whatever their views, interest or involvement in the pilot scheme.
“Our operation is not yet activated. However, due to recent media and social media speculation, there has been some concern in local communities.
BADGER CULL STARTS as protester JAY TIERNAN is first protester arrested
(Video credit: 2b3n4m5q)