A judgement on the legal challenge to a badger cull in NI is expected to be delivered by the end of June, a wildlife campaign group has said.
In an email circulated among supporters last week, Wild Justice gave an update on the judicial review case which was heard in the High Court in Belfast last November
“Yesterday we heard that we will get the result of that court hearing before the end of June. This is a phenomenal wait and much longer than was expected,” the update reads.
Despite the ongoing legal challenge, DAERA has pressed on with the process of appointing a contractor to deliver wildlife intervention in NI. A department spokesperson confirmed that four applications were received, although DAERA has not yet determined which companies will move to the next stage of the selection process.
“A definitive date for selecting the company or companies cannot be provided at this time,” the spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.
One of the companies proposes that it will be funded by a new levy on milk (0.02p/l) and cattle at slaughter (£1/head), however, it is unclear how the other applicants plan on raising money.
At the request of farm organisations, the new levy is set to be collected by both dairy and meat processors from 1 May 2023. Sources indicate that the dairy co-ops are fully on board, while local meat plants are just waiting on clarification on a few minor issues.
Aside from the ongoing court case and contractor selection process, another stumbling block for DAERA’s new TB strategy is the political deadlock at Stormont.
“Any badger intervention will require legislation to be laid at the Assembly,” the DAERA spokesperson said.
New record high
Meanwhile, the incidence rate of TB has moved on to another record high in NI. The latest DAERA figures show that herd incidence stood at 10.65% in February 2023, up from 10.41% the previous month.
In total, 3,007 reactor cattle were removed from farms in the first two months of 2023, a 31% increase on the same period last year.