Tag Archives: defra

Badgers moving goalposts? It’s the government that’s playing football with badger cull policy

Dead badger probably roadkillThe badger cull has always been controversial. It has set wildlife groups and animal lovers against farmers. Many argue that it is being pursued against scientific opinion. And now the cull is struggling to meet its targets. The shooters in Somerset should have delivered 1,015 cadavers but so far they have piled up just 600.

What is going wrong? Defra chief Owen Paterson told the BBC: “the badgers have moved the goalposts.” Shame on badgers for not cooperating with a scheme to kill them!

This trial is not about increasing our scientific knowledge of bovine TB in the badger population. If that was the case, the government would be testing the carcases for TB. It is not. We will never know whether the dead brocks were disease carriers.

The trial is about the efficacy of shooting. And the result is that it is not efficacious.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 25 Comments

Reshuffle – Lib Dems demoted at Defra as Heath axed

David Heath has been sacked as Minister of State for Agriculture and Food at Defra. In his place is North Cornwall Lib Dem MP Dan Rogerson, but at the more junior position of Parliamentary Under Secretary.

Dan Rogerson

In his letter to Heath, Nick Clegg said:

I am very aware of the pressure on you within Defra over the last year, and I am particularly grateful to you for the clarity and objectivity you have brought to issues of animal and plant disease, your defence of environmental issues, your commitment to agriculture and rural areas, and the development of new and exciting policies to enhance our forests.

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Baroness Kate Parminter writes…We need more research and public engagement before agreeing to GM crops

The speech today by Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for the Environment makes it clear that he is intent on promoting the use of GM crops in Britain – and to do so by acting as a cheerleader for an industry which has consistently promised much over the last twenty years and yet failed to deliver.   It follows hard on the heels of that of the Science Minister, David Willetts, as the latest attempt by the Tories to go beyond the Coalition Government’s agreed policy on GM crops.

Liberal Democrats are not in principle opposed to GM, but we believe no …

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David Heath MP reports back on the CITES conference and global agreement to protect sharks and manta rays

Much of my work in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs centres on the last two parts of the title, so it’s good just occasionally to be able to make a difference on the other part of the agenda, the environment. I had just such an opportunity last week when I represented the United Kingdom at the meeting of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

I was in Bangkok, Thailand, leading a trade mission on behalf of British meat and livestock to the biggest trade fair in Asia. But the timing meant that …

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How to damage rural communities in several easy stages…

Yesterday, I waxed unlyrical about the effects of government on rural life, and today, I want to look at some of those effects…

The Department for Education, under Michael Gove, has changed the funding arrangements for schools, with unfortunate side effects for rural schools. This means that schools such as the one I visited recently in Norfolk will lose grant funding, and be forced to lay off staff as a result. Given that rural counties already receive less grant per pupil than …

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Opinion: Badger cull delay is good news for Liberal Democrats

Owen Paterson’s announcement on the delay of the badger cull is good news for badgers and for the Liberal Democrats.

The ill-conceived policy may have had the backing of significant interest groups such as the NFU – Paterson repeatedly acknowledged their efforts in his speech – but it was always going to be difficult to present and ‘sell’ this policy to a nation with a strong affection to its environment and wildlife, especially after the debacle of the proposal to sell off the country’s forests.Combine public opinion with the …

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Kill the cull – it’s bad for badgers, science and the Government

A new term and the Government looks set to walk straight into a public relations disaster. In a bid to ‘manage’ the spread of bovine TB, Defra will commence a badger cull starting in two areas of the South West – West Somerset/Taunton Deane and in the Forest of Dean/Tewkesbury. It is not just the pictures of indiscriminate shooting and maiming of an icon of the British countryside which will be so damaging for the Government; it is the fact that the cull is based on flawed science.  This is an ill-conceived policy.

The decision by Defra, one of the few …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 34 Comments
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