Once again essential figures from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are wrong . It has been forced to suspend statistics on herds under restriction because of bovine tuberculosis (bTB), and expects this number to be “revised significantly downwards for 2012 and 2013”. Owen Paterson must explain to the Commons, the farming community and the public another humiliating and shambolic error in his Department.
This news comes as Ministers plan to extend badger killing into wide areas of the south west having based their calculations on the incorrect figures. These are now seen to be suspect, but have been used to justify one of the most destructive official programmes ever inflicted on English wildlife.
The department claims the errors are because of yet another problem with its data recording. This is the second time vital information has been delayed. The changeover to a new information technology system caused the service to be disrupted from 2008, and five years’ revised figures – still only provisional – had to be issued in March last year. But ominously they carried the warning that a problem had been found relating to the number of herds no longer under restriction.
Other examples of errors were the downward revisions of badger populations in the Somerset and Gloucestershire pilot cull areas, meaning fewer animals had to be killed to meet the reduced target.
David Williams. Chairman of the Badger Trust, said: “Mr Cameron unequivocally endorsed the ‘farmer-led’ and ‘science-led’ culling programme when he took office. Now he and his fellow ministers suffer the embarrassment of having relied on incorrect statistics. They should immediately abandon all plans for continuing the cull, and investigate who is responsible for wasting public money on a useless system which has misled everybody including the farming community.. Correct data should have been central to any scientific reasoning behind the policy, which is clearly crumbling.
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