Brian May’s Save Me Trust has announced its intention to challenge any decision to permit badger culling in England in the courts.
The animal welfare charity’s lawyers have written to Natural England‘s chief executive and chief legal advisor warning them of a High Court Judicial Review legal challenge if licences to cull badgers are activated in Gloucestershire and Somerset or any new areas.
In a statement Save Me Trust CEO Anne Brummer said: “To continue the culling of badgers is unlawful as it does not rationally serve the statutory purpose which permits the killing of badgers only to achieve the aim of preventing the spread of disease.
“Additionally there has been a fundamental failure in the consultation process, a logically flawed approach in calculating badger numbers and a failure in Gloucestershire in any event to meet its minimum targets in 2013 and 2014.”
Badger culling is expected to resume for the third year in the Somerset and Gloucestershire pilot areas in the autumn, while a number of new areas have made applications to Natural England.
At least one of these, Dorset, which was prepared as a reserve area in 2014, is expected to be given the go ahead in time for culling to begin this year.
Natural England and the NFU both said it would not be appropriate to comment as nothing has been announced yet.
The Somerset pilot area met its targets for badger removal in 2014, while Gloucestershire fell short, something Ministers and farmers blamed partly on the disruption caused by activists in the area.
Former Defra Secretary Owen Paterson recently cited unofficial figures suggesting a reduction in cattle disease in Somerset, in particular, as evidence of the ‘extraordinary success’ of culling so far.