14 January 2014 by Michael Yong
Policing the badger cull in Gloucestershire cost around £1.7 million. Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl confirmed this afternoon that was how much the force will be reclaiming from the Government for policing the cull.
The figure only relates to costs to Gloucestershire Police which was the coordinating force involved in monitoring the cull in the county. The cull was extended beyond its six-week window after marksmen failed to hit its target.
Mr Surl told the Echo he still believed the extension put a strain on police resources.
He said: “That is the estimated total cost of policing in response the badger cull in Gloucestershire. The police planned for several scenarios so this has come within the parameters of what could reasonably be expected. I have been assured by the police that the sum was justified. It was the cost of keeping the peace in Gloucestershire during a very difficult time. Financially, it should not affect policing in Gloucestershire at all because the Police Minister has promised that central government will pick up the bill.”
In Gloucestershire, only 831 animals were shot, falling short of the 70 per cent population target set by the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Some 38 arrests were made in the county during the cull, with 15 during the main six-week cull period. A full breakdown of the costs of policing the cull will be revealed at the end of the financial year.
Mr Surl added: “I will stand by the comments I made before the extension. The extension did put a strain on police resources. I still don’t think it was a good idea. The community, on both sides, had enough after the first six weeks. It was a topic that was talked about quite a lot, and I felt it was important I announced the figure now.”
He confirmed the cost announced is correct, but not exact. Mr Surl had said before the extension he was “disappointed” if it was granted, and that it “may create an unhelpful situation”.
Campaigners against the cull have claimed the badger cull had cost more than £7 million, which would equate to around £4,100 per badger. Charity Care for the Wild released the figures last week, and condemned the Government for spending too much on the cull.
Queen guitarist Dr Brian May has also criticised the Government over the cost of the cull.
A spokesman for Defra said: “The costs of the badger cull pilots are vastly outweighed by the impact that bovine TB is having on our farming industry and taxpayers. Each bovine TB cattle outbreak costs an average £34,000, and if left unchecked this disease will cost the taxpayer £1billion over the next 10 years.”