20 August 2013 | By Alistair Driver
THE NFU has applied to the High Court for an injunction it says is necessary to protect farmers and landowners from badger cull protesters.
It has applied for the injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
In a statement, NFU president Peter Kendall said: “We have applied for the injunction in response to various incidents of harassment and intimidation carried out against farmers and landowners by activists opposed to the badger cull.
“The application was made against a number of defendants and we hope that the High Court will hear our application shortly.”
The application is due to be heard by the High Court on Thursday.
Licences to commence six-week pilot badger culls over 300sq.km areas in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset became valid from June 1. Mr Kendall insisted, however, that there was no link between the timing of the application, which he said had NFU lawyers had been working on for some time, and the start of the culls.
Since the pilot culls areas were announced early last year, animal rights activists have targeted farmers in and around the areas with threatening phone calls, letters and emails in a bid to force farmers to drop out.
Mr Kendall said resolve remained strong among farmers within the areas. “Whenever I have been down to the cull areas and I have spoken to farmers who have been intimnidated, the message I have had is that these people are determined that this needs to happen and are determined to stick togteher,” he told Farmers Guardian.
Activists have also threatened to disrupt the culls once they get underway. In an interview with Farmers Guardian, Jay Tiernan, a spokesman for the activists said: “The moment we know [the cull is happening], we would expect 200 or 300 people within the cull zone.
He said activists would position themselves at crossroads to try to identify vehicles driven by marksmen and then follow the ones they suspect.
“When we know where culling is taking place we will have a guy on top of a hill. He will be using binoculars with night vision and if he can see someone who looks like they are going to kill a badger, he will contact groups of people,” Mr Tiernan said.
He claimed activists would use ‘very bright’ LED torches, vuvuzelas and MP3 player amplifiers to produce noise ‘to let shooters know they are in the vicinity’.