From the Daily Mirror in Britain:
Tories block publication of report into whether badger cull is a waste of money
17:00, 1 Nov 2015
By Ben Glaze
Wildlife activists believe the secret document would throw into doubt claims the cull is worthwhile
The government is refusing to publish the report
Badger-killing Tories are refusing to reveal a key report showing whether the controversial cull is good value for money.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has blocked publication of the major analysis, despite a freedom of information request by animal rights campaigners.
Wildlife activists believe the secret document would throw into doubt claims the cull is worthwhile.
Supporters of the killing programme blame badgers for fuelling the spread of TB in cattle. But opponents warn it is eye-wateringly expensive and ineffective.
Badger Trust boss Dominic Dyer said: “The Government’s reluctance to release this information proves what we have known all along – the badger cull is a hugely expensively, scientifically flawed and inhumane policy which is likely to make no significant contribution to lowering the level of bovine TB in cattle.”
The charity requested details of a cost benefit analysis of two pilot schemes in Somerset and Gloucestershire from 2013 and 2014. It was widened into Dorset this year.
But Defra refused to release the documents, saying: “We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosure of information concerning the badger culls in order to enable the public to assess the quality of policy formulation, advice and guidance, to enhance transparency of decision making and increase Government accountability.
“However, Defra has concluded that the public interest in withholding the information sought outweighs the public interest in its disclosure.
“The assessment of value for money is still in draft form. Defra took a measured approach by extending culling to one additional area this year (Dorset) in order to test lessons learned in a new area and to expand the evidence base that will be used to inform analysis of badger cull cost assumptions and value for money.
“Information from this year’s culls will be used to refine Defra’s cost assumptions in the coming months and releasing an interim assessment before it has been finalised could mislead the public, distract from the discussion of effective disease control and impinge on the safe space officials require to develop the policy.”
The cull saw 588 badgers shot dead at a total cost of £4,459,000 – a staggering £7,583 per animal.
The programme began in 2013 and has cost a total of £16.7m so far – including a one-off £2.5m cost for delaying the planned start in 2012 – with 2,449 animals killed.
Figures for the latest six-week cull are expected to be published later this month. Marksmen hoped to kill up to 2,038 of the shy creatures.
Badger Trust chairman Peter Martin said: “This policy is now becoming something of a national scandal.
“The levels of secrecy surrounding its implementation indicate that the Government has something serious to hide from us.”