Derbyshire MPs ‘released confidential badger cull map’

By Greig Watson & Simon Hare
BBC News


image copyrightGetty Images

image captionBadgers are a protected species but they have been blamed for TB transmission to cattle

Two MPs have accidentally released confidential details of badger culls in Derbyshire.

The county is one of the areas where the animals are to be killed in an effort to tackle TB in livestock.

But emails sent by Pauline Latham and Heather Wheeler, backing the move, included a map of the cull area – previously a closely-guarded secret.

Mrs Latham blamed an administrative mistake while Mrs Wheeler has not commented.

image copyrightUK Parliament /Conservative Party
image captionPauline Latham (l) and Heather Wheeler have both supported the badger cull

The MPs are understood to have shared the material with constituents in response to questions about the cull.

They also posted the material – which appeared to have come from an official briefing – on their websites, before it was removed.

Bovine TB is highly infectious and makes cattle and their milk unfit for consumption.

Government agency Natural England has issued licences for culls in 11 new areas, including Derbyshire.

This was alongside re-authorising licences for 33 areas of the country where culling has already taken place in previous years.

The move has been

condemned by various groups, including Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and The Badger Trust, who said the strategy was cruel and ineffective.

But the government said bovine TB had to be tackled, a move supported by both Mrs Latham and Ms Wheeler, Conservative MPs for Mid Derbyshire and South Derbyshire.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionBadger culls have provoked opposition but many farmers insist they are needed

Pressure group Derbyshire Against the Cull said: “This was passed to us by constituents who had written to their MPs to oppose the cull.

“Cull zone boundaries are never published and are in fact redacted from the letter issued to grant cull licenses by Natural England.

“So this is a massive help to us. This shows exactly where the cull areas are and allows people visiting the area to know exactly where the cruel and unnecessary action is taking place.”

Mrs Latham said: “This was obviously down to human error and should not have been sent out. I am sure you appreciate that occasionally administrative mistakes do happen.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed the licences had been published earlier this month and that the areas they covered had been kept secret through being redacted in the published licences, but declined to comment any further.

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Related Topics

  • Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

  • Badger culling
  • Badgers

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