Press Release: Cameron conned, Paterson diddles and taxpayer bilked


Badger Trust logoBADGER TRUST
15 January 2014

Gloucestershire Constabulary spent an estimated £1.7 million in policing the badger cull in the county, according to a statement from Mr Martin Surl, Police and Crime Commissioner. Avon and Somerset Constabulary spent another £853,000, of which £738,000 was reimbursed by Defra. West Mercia Police estimates its equivalent costs at £466,971.

This means the total being paid by the public, not the farmers’ culling consortiums, amounts to £3,019,971 at the rate of £1,622 per badger in policing costs alone.

Mr Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, told the Commons in a written statement on December 2nd last year that the original six-week cull in Gloucestershire had resulted in 708 badger deaths, with another 213 during the extension of five weeks and three days [1] , totalling 921. Mr Paterson announced on November 5th, 2013, that culling in Somerset had accounted for 940 badgers killed, including an extra 90 in the three-week extension period [2] totalling 1,861.

Defra explained, in a statement to The Guardian: “The costs of the badger cull pilots will be 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 £1bn over the next 10 years” [3] .

In January last year the Welsh NFU criticised the cost of vaccination, £662 per badger [4] . But this is only a third of the costs of just policing in England’s pilot culls.

The wildlife charity Care for the Wild has calculated that the total cost of the two “pilot” culls has been £7.3 million including £5.8 million from the taxpayer, with the farmers’ consortiums paying the rest [5] . Now, with the West Mercia policing figure added, this would amount to £4,173 per badger.

David Williams, Chairman of the Badger Trust, said: “Once again Defra is wriggling on the hook. Its statement implies that killing badgers would have a significant effect in the fight against bovine TB. That is not only untrue but a gross exaggeration of the marginal contribution culling would make, as has been seen in the past.

”The policing costs are yet more evidence of the gross waste of the lives of badgers, a protected species, as well as a sickening imposition on taxpayers. The farmers’ consortiums have evidently paid only a pathetic fifth – £1.5 million – of the estimated total for all culling so far. The Prime Minister and the Coalition connived at and then swallowed the original plan, which was for farmers to pay for the killing with the taxpayer meeting only the cost of regulation. If the culling programme is rolled out in full the public could expect to be still paying for this charade beyond the end of the decade, and it will have done next to nothing to reduce the TB burden on the cattle industry”.

Mr Surl said: “Gloucestershire Constabulary 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”. Somerset police released its costs via Twitter as a result of a freedom of information request.

Jack Reedy

[1] – Bovine TB [Environment Food and Rural Affairs] – Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 2 December 2013, c33WS)
[2] – Bovine TB [Environment Food and Rural Affairs] – Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 5 November 2013, c10WS)
[3] – Cost of policing badger culls more than double initial estimates
[4] – Badger vaccination cost revealed
[5] – Figures Reveal Badger Cull Cost £7m – Shock Stats Prove Each Dead Badger Cost £4000+