MORE GOOD NEWS! Judge gives permission for High Court Action.
Dear Badger Crowd,
Yet more Great News! Our two Judicial Review Applications have now been given permission to proceed and Defra and Natural England will face us in Court. We are not sure exactly when , but are hoping for the 3-day hearing at as an early a point as possible. Thanks to your support we won the ICO Tribunal against Natural England in January and as a result we are due to see ...Read More >>
Our government has escalated badger culling in England this autumn on an industrial scale. Badgers are gone from woods, banks and meadows in a growing series of brutal bloody countryside purges. Bags and piles of mostly healthy badgers are mass-slaughtered using your taxes. Resting on dubious science and decisions. The legally required safeguards on English wildlife from removing our top-tier predator remains hidden from us. Natural England, the agency who issue licenses to kill badgers say they have no written description of their approach and that areas assessed must remain confidential for fear of landowner intimidation from anti-cull protest. This, despite an official ruling by the Information Commissioner that it would not; that Natural England is, yet again mistaken.
Will you join over 300 people who are already fighting to reveal the hidden information? If you are already part of the badger crowd can you help further? Could you run your own small-scale fund-raiser to add to our total? Might you gain support locally from as wide an audience as possible, remembering that the vast majority of the public reject badger culling as ill-founded?
With crowdfunding income from our first appeal, we have successfully completed paperwork, legal scrutiny and applied for Judicial Review of the 2017 Supplementary Culling licenses that allow further badger culling for 8 months of the year for five years. We are also challenging the consultation process for Supplementary Culling and are still looking at possibilities for challenging other new badger culling licenses issued this year.
Together we successfully climbed the first mountain of the costs of preparing for legal action. We are also raising funds for the Information Commission tribunal into Natural England secrecy, to be held this December. Helped by badger friends around the UK we met the need for a first tranche of payments this month (October) with generous donations totaling over £150 per day over the first four weeks.
But we need to pull out all the stops now to raise £12,000 before the end of this year in order to be fit for a Judicial Review Hearing, if it is granted to us. We need to fund the lawyers for work during future court appearances and to protect against costs that could be awarded against us. Many local Badger Groups and The Badger Trust are continuing to support this effort and I will update you on that next week with a separate charitable crowdfund for the JR that can attract gift aid on donations. Our combined efforts should see sufficient funds banked in order to take on all of the challenges worth pursuing.
We are positive regarding the prospects of stopping decisions that we feel are unlawful. But we cannot hesitate to begin building our funds up again as there are now just a few weeks to prepare. With the help of many, we have got to this first important stage. But we cannot rest for a moment. For the sake of badgers and for common sense; to protect England’s wildlife and to stop the wasteful, unscientific killing of badgers. Be one of the crowd and recruit others to become a part too. Thank you on behalf of our growing crowd. Together we can protect our precious wildlife.
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MORE GOOD NEWS! Judge gives permission for High Court Action.
Dear Badger Crowd,
Yet more Great News! Our two Judicial Review Applications have now been given permission to proceed and Defra and Natural England will face us in Court. We are not sure exactly when , but are hoping for the 3-day hearing at as an early a point as possible. Thanks to your support we won the ICO Tribunal against Natural England in January and as a result we are due to see shortly the 2016 secret information on ecological impact assessments, to be released by 21st February – next week. According to what they show we may even take yet further action against those assessments and the badger killing licences that rest on them. On a related matter emerging from the Tribunal, I have written to Natural England asking for a meeting to discuss violence towards anti-cull protestors and how making information public can defuse rural tensions and reduce illegal killing of badgers in and around cull areas.
Meanwhile, for our challenge to the 2017 Supplementary Culling permission and licences, and for the 2017 new culling area assessments and licences that we are challenging, we will now start gearing up ready for the High Court. We have leading experts in the country behind our cause and a superb legal team with a powerful case built on the range of issues. We do need to keep funding coming in as it has been slow since the New Year. A number of badger groups and individuals however have been very generous again. Costs, should we lose, have been set under the Aarhus Convention for this environmental battle. We still need more funding as we go along but estimate that we are around half-way there at the moment. Pease spread the word and help to keep the financial support coming. The Badger Crowd can win. We will never surrender to the misguided, damaging, unscientific, wasteful, illogical, badger culls.
Best Wishes, Tom Langton, on behalf of the Badger Crowd
We win the ICO Tribunal ! Natural England lose their Appeal.
Just a quick update to say that we heard today that Natural England have lost their appeal against handing over the badger cull information. I have asked them if they are going to try to appeal again. They have been directed by the ICO to disclose the withheld information.
In another positive development the two Judicial Review Applications are to be joined together. This reduces our legal costs by having the various challenges dealt with togehter by one judge. Big relief on the finance front! The generous donations will go further.
On that score, lets keep this fund ticking over if we can. We have had a number of offline donations and pledges worth over £1000 from a number of badger groups and charities in recent days - thanks to you all.
We may have to wait a couple more weeks before we learn about our judicial review applications.
I will update again soon with more details on the above, but a good week in the office so far.......
Stop The Cull,
all the best, Tom
2017 Badger Cull numbers released.
The sickening news is that Natural England have reported on the largest ever public-funded massacre of a protected species in England, licenced by them and with around 20,000 badgers killed this autumn. This is an unknown proportion of badger populations within 19 large rural areas of England and includes removals on and around nature areas as well as farmland. Reports by local insiders, however, point to road-killed badgers having being used to boost failing cull quotas including some being brought in from outside official cull areas. This may mean that hundreds or more of the total may not be what they are supposed to be and the uncertainty is compounded.
The number of badgers to be killed had to be quickly reduced by NE after the start in most of the areas to help paid contractors to appear ‘effective’. This is a bizarre part of the process that allows it to be called a ‘success’ at the end of the year. Effectiveness, as used in this context refers to the ability to always achieve the killing targets, which is important for those in charge and certainly not the effectiveness of the killing or on it reducing TB in cattle. Meanwhile Minister George Eustice keeps repeating the muddled mathematically modelled outcome of the two initial Pilot culls in their first years. What actually happened on the ground is inconclusive according to those measuring change in TB bovine rates in those two places.
NFU’s Minette Batters on the radio prefers anecdotes to this truth, as also showcased by BBC Countryfile. Chief Vet Nigel Gibbens’ report (see link below) makes for worrying reading as his replacement Christine Middlemiss inherits from him the major unfolding veterinary disaster and policy nightmare. The intensive “precision killing” of badgers described in the original 2011 cull policy simply has not been achievable, as predicted by many from the start. Meanwhile, there is still no word on the promised, review of ‘the science behind the badger cull’. Progress with this will apparently become clear over the next few weeks.
Closer to the issues in hand that are challengeable in law, we now have the Natural England tribunal completed and are waiting for the result. We move on towards the Judicial Review Applications and potential court action in the New Year. We are hoping for permission to proceed on both JR applications, to challenge aspects of ‘supplementary culling’ and to expose how essential checks and considerations regarding the disruption of internationally important habitats and species were overlooked. Please consider a small contribution and let others know that we are building our fighting fund over the Christmas and New Year period. Social media is a good way to spread the word if you can. Those of us who recognise badgers as an integral part of the fabric of the English countryside must continue the fight. Please help make 2018 the year that the disgrace of badger culling in England stops and an intensive focus upon bovine testing begins using new better tests. The welfare and future of wildlife, badgers, livestock and farmers depend on our exposing the mistakes of the past and helping to replace the current cruel, misguided and useless folly that disgraces our nation.
Natural England Information Tribunal in London is completed.
This week the tribunal into Natural England’s refusal to hand over sensitive information took place. Representatives were present from the Badger Trust, Badger Trust Sussex, Badger Trust Wales the tribunal room was full, showing just how much people care. The first surprise was that NE did not want to examine our evidence on the importance of the release of the 2016 environmental impact information. They said they did not agree with us but did not to tell us why in any detail. However because the 2017 impact information had been released to us in confidence just last week, resulting in a new Judicial Review application, a powerful message was sent showing how important such information release could be.
It is hard and perhaps wrong to say too much about the tribunal while the considerations are being made. We were highly satisfied both by the cross examination of badger cull police liaison expert Ray Puttock and of our Councel Tim Nesbitt of Outer Temple Chambers examination of Natural England’s Witness A; a Natural England licensing official. With respect to the balance of importance of the release of information versus any harm to the public from doing so, we think the tribunal went very well. The results will be in four weeks-time in the second half of January, so not long now. Of course it may be too late to challenge the 2016 licences if we find fault in the impact assessments but that would not remove the need to do so and if NE refuse to do it we could challenge that decision, so we have ways to get justice for wildlife, whatever the outcome.
Our fund-raising has slowed up a bit and we need to get over the £8,000 mark as soon as possible. Let’s see if we can do that. People say that fundraising at Christmas is always difficult. Let’s see if we can prove that wrong! Let’s give badgers – and wildlife impacted by badger culling a boost this Christmas by funding this work to expose how wildlife interests on important nature reserves may have been damaged over the last five years. Thanks again to you all. On behalf of everyone, keep up the good work to protect badgers and wildlife. Remember that over 85% of the public are against badger culling, so if you can, please keep reminding your friends, neighbours and colleagues to chip in! Please tell any bird watchers - we are out to help save rare birds that may be the most rapidly impacted by badger culling operations and their longer consequences across the west of England.
Natural England release 2017 HRA details
We have been looking not only at the robustness of this year’s supplementary badger culling consultation and licences in Somerset and Gloucestershire but also at 2017 badger culling licences in 11 areas, in terms of impacts upon ecosystems within and outside culling areas. As a result, yesterday Natural England released to our solicitors under a strict confidentiality agreement, details of the Habitat Regulations Assessments done for them. We are today checking them with the help of national HRA expert Dominic Woodfield who has kindly bolstered both the Tribunal and JR teams with his deep expertise in wildlife legislation. This will show if a challenge is appropriate and if it needs taking forwards this week due to tight deadlines. So please watch this space!
We now need to push this fund hard to get to £12,000 towards JR costs and especially if we are to open up a new challenge against the 2017 badger culling licences. This is a daunting prospect but one we cannot resist if badgers and protected wildlife are being destroyed unlawfully, we need to know and to make sure it does not continue. If we do progress we may need a new dedicated fund to take into the new year.
The Information Commission tribunal in London to consider Natural England’s appeal against releasing 2016 HRA details is next week and final preparations are being made. We have in addition to the latest Badger Trust donation a fantastic new personal donation from the well-known badger friends; Mick and Linda Griffiths, worth £2,500, taking our tribunal funding close to completion. Thank you Mick and Linda.
Thanks again to everyone also, following and supporting these efforts and for your messages of support and hard work. We need to keep bringing more people into our crowd as supporters. Next week will hopefully begin for us all and at last the process of bringing justice to the sorry situation that began in 2013.
Great Support From The Badger Trust
It's a working weekend for our two badger legal teams and witnesses and it is a mark of our collective strength that the Badger Trust this afternoon decided to contribute £4,800 towards the Information Commissioner Tribunal challenge fund. The tribunal is set to start the week after next. This is a badly needed contribution and adds to BT's generous hosting of a joint crowd fund towards the Tribunal and the Judicial Review Application contributions.
On top of the £500 from the Badger Trust to help get us started with the JR challenge back in August, this is a substantial boost to gaining justice for badgers and other cull-impacted wildlife in our countryside. So huge thanks again to the Badger Trust who have stood up for badgers over the decades and who's members and supporters have also been most generous, including of course the wonderful Badger Groups around the country. You are all true defenders of badgers.
NEW PRE-ACTION LETTER SENT TO NATURAL ENGLAND
As we sail past our latest fundraising target, it is confirmed that a new solicitors letter was sent to Natural England yesterday, this time regarding the badger culling licences issued in 2017. Detailed scrutiny of redacted environmental information indicates concerns over the licences issued for the first time this year and what the secret information might show. Eleven licences issued in September 2017 covering areas in Cheshire, Devon, Dorset, Herefordshire, Somerset and Wiltshire are now in question.
This adds to the growing list of legal concerns already raised with Natural England and Defra. This development adds to our workload but is necessary in order to provide the clarity that the government states is essential in public consultation on major plans and programmes.
The badger culls are now one of the larger coordinated single-species disruptions of British Countryside in modern times. We are only three weeks away from the Freedom of Information Tribunal to be held in London, with Natural England still refusing to hand over the information on environmental checks. We get closer to exposing the truth about what has been going on behind closed doors over the last four years.
More generous support from Badger Groups
A second update on the same day but with good reason - the anonymous donors have turned out to be Badger-Trust Sussex, coming in with perfect timing to help 'double your money' over the last few days as promised.
Also a great £750 from North East Essex Badger Group. My points of contact with these two groups are Jeff, Pat and Renee but with them are small armies of kind caring folk who understand badgers and who work tirelessly to make the word that bit less brutal for them and to protect their environment.
Just as important are all the folk who have donated hard-earned smaller individual amounts that add up to more badger power. Thanks again to you all. This leaves just £465 to find over the next couple of days. I am sure we will find it, so that we can move on to make our future ambitions realistic and achievable.
Great Badger Progress - we are heading to smash our next target!
Monday morning again and the fund has done extremely well over the weekend - we are now around £750 short of reaching our current target by Wednesday of this week when £2,000 from a major donor will be added to trigger our longer stretch target.
So well done and thanks again. It seems that the whole badger community as one has risen in unison to the challenge. Thanks also to the messages of support that are ever increasing.
People are shocked by the way BBC Countryfile handled the update on the badger cull last night. No mention of numbers of badgers that the government authorised to be killed, no mention of the new potential for Phage RPA testing. No mention of how the government policy continues to fail in England but is working in Wales where gamma testing has been thorough. Well done to Dominic Dyer and the Badger Trust for trying to balance the folly.
Countryfile just arranged a simple repeating of what George Eustice said at EFRA questions a few weeks ago, that the public should follow the modelled results rather than the real results - that there is no evidence so far of it working. Just stop and think about it. Never mind what actually happened on the farm, we will get someone to adjust that and to ‘pretend’ that bovine TB came down and it works. Is that where we are with science in 2017? With the public paying? Surely we are better than that?
As an official compliant goes in to the BBC we will not be distracted too much from the immediate challenges. The Natural England Tribunal is just three weeks away and preparations are going extremely well. We will fight this nonsense in the media, in the courts and tribunals and in the light of the facts and truth.
Please see also that the Badger Trust combined appeal is now up and running. You can give with the bonus of gift aid to the Tribunal and Judicial Review fund and we will manage the best location for the funding at any given time. Here is the Link:
A very generous offer of help for our badger appeal
Some very encouraging news. An anonymous donor has just offered to match any further donations from 1 pm today until next Wednesday pound for pound. So any new donations will be worth double and with £4,200 to raise by the middle of next week, we now need just £2,100.
This is incredibly helpful and makes our task that bit more realistic.
So please alert everyone that you can - let's use this generous offer while we can to get to the next important stage. When the fund hits £4,400 the remainder will be paid!
Together we are standing up for badgers and their natural communities across England.
Best wishes, Tom
Our Appeal is off to a good start
Just a quick update, firstly to thank everyone who has donated to get the second appeal up and running. We need to pick up some speed with this, so please do everything you can to alert others to the appeal.
I spent this weekend at the Badger Trust conference in Preston, Lancashire to present information on the Judicial Review and ICO Tribunal cases and there is growing support behind the initiatives. We have not quite got the appeal that takes gift-aid on personal donations ready yet but it is being worked on. So for those who have been in touch about this, please be patient, it should be up and running very soon and I will do another update when it is in order to give you the Link.
Most of the main culls are over this year but sadly culling is continuing in several areas, and unlawful culling has been stimulated it is suspected in several areas.
We will work constantly to restore justice to the countryside on behalf of you and the badgers,
Regards, best wishes and thanks again for all your hard work and support, wherever you are.
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