ENVIRONMENT Secretary Owen Paterson’s announcement that he would not shy away from the difficult decisions required to stop bovine TB has won praise from landowners in the South West.

The Country Land and Business Association national president Henry Robinson said: “The CLA applauds his commitment to take the tough decisions required to stop this disease, a policy that will eventually lead to healthy badgers living alongside healthy cattle.”

He said that Mr Paterson  had been right to pay tribute to the farmers and landowners who had undertaken the trial culls and added that he was pleased that the Secretary of State made the point that significant numbers of diseased badgers had been removed.

The Secretary of State’s pledge to slash £1billion worth of farming industry red tape and to support farmers having access to the widest possible range of technologies – including GM crops – also won backing from the CLA president who said that the industry had been constrained for too long by the burden of excessive bureaucracy and that both decisions would boost the farming industry.

“Farmers everywhere will be encouraged by the Environment Secretary’s commitment to cut compliance costs and his promise to remove two regulations for every one added – including chopping £1 billion worth of red tape and regulation over the next five years.

“And while almost no one believes GM is a total solution to food security, it should be available to farmers where evidence shows it is safe and suitable,” he said.

  • THE Badger Trust is demanding answers from the government after a freedom of information request revealed public money being spent paying the NFU and contractors' field work on badgers in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset.

The trust says the government pledged the cull would be farmer led, with the coalition paying only for supervision by Natural England.

In answer to freedom of information requests from the Badger Trust the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has revealed payments from public funds to the National Farmers’ Union and some of its contractors towards field work. This was to estimate the badger population before killing began as part of the bovine TB eradication programme in England.

The trust says the then Secretary of State, Mrs Caroline Spelman, told the Commons that badger control licences would be issued by Natural England under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 to enable groups of farmers and landowners to reduce badger populations at their own expense. Natural England would set out strict criteria to ensure that any culling was carried out safely, effectively and humanely.

The trust asked how much was spent by Defra on the badger surveys to ascertain the number of badgers in culling areas in 2012 and 2013 and was told the information did not exist in that level of detail.

Nor did Defra have the final costs of training field staff or how much survey work cost in Somerset and Gloucester.