The Minister responsible for overseeing the introduction of a badger cull in England has now revealed that the cost of this to farmers and landowners, who will be paying for it, could be £1.4million. Jim Paice MP announced that these costs involve all those associated with actually carrying out the cull, including the administration of the licences and surveys that will be needed.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has calculated that this will be the cost to farmers and landowners within each 350sq km cull zone, but yet they still seem to think this will be value for money. However, coming from a department that has just spent £70million on redundancy payments to its staff despite the on-going recruitment of 500 new members of staff, we shouldn’t really be surprised.
One thing these costs don’t include however is the cost of policing and enforcing the cull. This question has been posed to Ministers several times but it appears the final figure has not been decided, or at least released, by the Home Office.
There are serious worries about the policing arrangements surrounding the proposed culling trial, not only from those that will inevitably try and stop it taking place, but also as a result of the high costs. I am not saying that the costs should be lowered as actually I don’t think the cull should take place at all, but do Ministers seriously not expect illegal culling to be rife given the costs associated with doing it legally?
The whole situation smacks of a department and set of ministers so desperate not to lose face over yet another policy shambles that they are holding on for dear life despite the complete mess they are leaving the countryside in. Let us be clear, these trials are piling over a million pounds of debt onto an already struggling industry with the false hope that this will improve their livelihoods. The science is clear that culling does not remove the problem of bovineTB and can actually make the whole situation much worse.
Things have got so desperate for Jim Paice that he now seemingly cannot even answer the most simple of questions. When asked by Huw Irranca-Davies MP if the Secretary of State, Caroline Spelman has discussed this issue with the Prime Minister, he responded with:
“The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mrs Spelman), discusses a range of issues with the Prime Minister on a regular basis.”
Well I’m glad he cleared that one up then.