The badger cull starts across Somerset countryside

The badger cull in Somerset has begun

The badger cull in Somerset has begun - Credit: Archant

A HIGH Court judge has ordered restrictions on how campaigners against Somerset’s badger cull can protest, as official shooting begins.

Culls have started in areas of the Somerset and Gloucestershire countryside, although the exact areas to be targeted have not been made public.

Badgers are being killed in large numbers, as the Government seeks to prevent the spread of bovine TB among the nation’s cattle.

Limits have been imposed on the way protests against the pilot culls in Somerset are held, after the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) asked for an injunction.

On August 22 Mr Justice Turner granted the civil order to ban any harassment or intimidation towards farmers until further notice.

Protesters are no longer able to form picket lines within 100m of homes or 25m of business buildings, and will be banned from blocking entries and exits to sites.

The High Court upheld the right for peaceful protests to still be carried out. The scope of the injunction was fought by challenges from the Badger Trust, who spoke on behalf of mainstream protestors.

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One Somerset charity has criticised the initial order sought by the NFU and welcomed the judge’s discretion.

Pauline Kidner, of Secret World Wildlife Rescue in East Huntspill, said: “The Badger Trust’s presence helped remind the court legitimate concerns about the cull remain. I think as a result the NFU were at pains to point out their willingness to accept genuine protest, and conceded they would not seek to enforce against anyone other than extremists. The ultimate order is certainly better than the original sought by the NFU.”

The Humane Society welcomed the decision to protect the fundamental right to protest and supported the Badger Trust in their High Court challenge.

Executive director of the Humane Society, Mark Jones, said: “We are delighted and relieved the judge has upheld the democratic right of ordinary, law-abiding citizens to protest against this wholly unjustified slaughter.”

NFU legal advisor Christina Michalos said: “The primary concern of the NFU and the other claimants is to prevent the harassment of those involved or those who the defendants suspect to be involved in the badger cull pilot scheme.

“The NFU recognises the badger cull is controversial and has no wish to prevent legitimate protest or stifle debate.”

Anyone on a wounded badger patrol, someone taking photographs of unlawful culling to pass to the police or carrying out peaceful protest on public land will not fall foul of the injunction.

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