Following the announcement by Defra on 7 September of 11 new badger cull licences that could result in over 62,000 more badgers being killed in 2020, the Shadow Defra Secretary, Luke Pollard MP, wrote to the Defra Secretary, George Eustice MP, and to the Head of the Bern Convention Secretariat confirming that the Labour Party supports the grounds of the Bern Convention. The complaint relates to the impact of the badger cull on the badger population in England.
The Badger Trust (with the support of Born Free and Eurogroup for Animals) lodged the complaint against the Government under the terms of the Bern Convention, which protects wildlife and natural habitats in Europe.
England is home to over 25% of the Eurasian badger population. The Badger Trust believes the large-scale culling of badgers is threatening the species with population collapse in many areas, which is an infringement of the Bern Convention Treaty.
Responding to the Labour Party support for the Bern Convention complaint Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust, said :
“The Badger Trust welcomes the support from the Shadow Defra Secretary, Luke Pollard MP, for the complaint lodged against the Government in the Bern Convention concerning the badger cull policy.
Britain is on track to leave the EU single market at the end of January 2021 without a trade deal, at a time when the nation is in the middle of a pandemic that has caused the worst economic downturn in living memory.
After decades of industrial farming, building development and, more recently, climate change, Britain is now one of the most nature depleted countries in Europe.
Despite numerous commitments that leaving the EU will not undermine safeguards to protect the environment, it’s clear that the government is increasingly putting short term political and economic interests before protecting species and habitats.
The badger cull is a prime example of a policy which is being driven to support the economic interests of the dairy and beef industry, with disastrous consequences for wildlife protection.
Outside of the EU, the Bern Convention Treaty takes on increasing importance for Britain in terms of its responsibilities to protect species and habitats.
Britain has over 25% of the badger population in Europe but this is being increasingly endangered as a result of a major expansion of badger culling that could see up to 164,000 badgers killed by the end of 2020 (since the cull policy started in 2013).
The complaint on the impact of the badger cull on the badger population in England – put forward to the Bern Convention by the Badger Trust, Born Free and Eurogroup for Animals – is an early test case for how Britain intends to meet its environmental protection obligations outside of the EU.
In the past, EU Member States might hesitate to condemn Britain for its failures within the Bern Convention, but after the long and difficult Brexit process will this still be the case?
If Britain is found to have failed to adequately monitor the impact of large scale badger killing on the overall badger population level in England, EU member states of the Bern Convention can call for action to be taken against Britain under the terms of the Convention.
Public and political opposition to the cruel, costly and largely ineffective badger cull policy is growing in Britain. Any infringement of the Bern Convention Treaty could prove highly embarrassing to the British Government in Europe and around the world. It raises wider fears that leaving the EU was a huge mistake when it comes to protecting wildlife.”