Following an item on this morning’s Farming Today about a Cornish farmer worried about intimidation by badger protection campaigners. It would be nice if the BBC stuck to facts and stopped broadcasting anecdotal claims by anonymous farmers:-
Re Badger Culls, Interference with culls by badger protection campaigners
I’ve campaigned for badgers against the culls since they started in 2013. Apart from a small minority of hotheads (of which there are some on both sides of the argument) badger campaigners do not intimidate farmers or threaten violence.
What your listeners may not know is that DEFRA, Police Forces and Natural England have agreed a policy between themselves to deny us any information on the badger culls. Our legal right to this information under the International Aarhus Convention to which the UK is a signatory, enshrined in UK law under the Environmental Information Act has been upheld in two rulings by the Information Commission. NE appealed against the first ruling, the appeal was rejected. An appeal against the second ruling is pending. It has become clear that public bodies intend to frustrate any attempts by the public to obtain information on the culls by obfuscation and delay leading to refusal on very dubious grounds and are prepared to fight every attempt to gain this information through, the courts if necessary.
I personally have had several FoI Requests turned down by police and by NE. I’m far from being the only one. We are not allowed to know the cull start dates or where the cull zone boundaries are, or despite many attempts, whether cage traps found last year which we believe were outside any Dorset cull zone were legal or not. Campaigners have increasingly become aware that illegal badger killing and sett interference is going on year round in Dorset, not just during a 6-week cull period. Since we are denied the information which will enable us to decide whether culling is legal or not or to make informed decisions on the legality of our own actions, we believe we are entitled to intervene to save badgers’ lives. This could include releasing badgers trapped in cages, rendering cages inactive or disrupting free-shooting of badgers. It does not include intimidation or violence. Our campaign is aimed at government policy, not at individual farmers.
Wessex Badger and Cattle Guardians, Dorset For Badger and Bovine Welfare