The Save Me Trust’s most recent legal challenge to the government’s badger culling programme was turned down this week, when our application for a Judicial Review was denied on a appeal by a single judge.
But the fight against this ineffective and cruel programme continues on all fronts. In particular DEFRA’s own recently published figures show that the incidence of bTB was in any event declining in both Dorset and Gloucestershire in the 3 years before the culls even began. The decision of the government to proceed with the culling in these areas appears to be contrary to DEFRA’s own policy published in 2011 which promised in terms that no culling would take place if the incidence of bTB was falling in a specific place.
Where a public authority issues a promise as to how it intends to act the law requires that the promise is honoured unless there is good reason not to do so. This is based upon principles of good administration and the fact that public bodies should deal straight forwardly, honestly and consistently with the public.
This principle appears to have been breached in this instance as DEFRA has continued to pursue the culling of badgers despite bTB rates falling in both Dorset and Gloucestershire. Further it is clear that the culls since 2013 have failed to meet set targets thus resulting in the likely increase of bTB in those areas according to the best scientific estimates available.
Perversely, this ill-conceived government policy has in fact probably contributed to an increase in bovine tuberculosis.
We will continuing to oppose the cull legally.