Thank you for contacting me about bovine TB.
As I am sure you are aware, the Government has decided the proposed badger cull in Derbyshire should not be licensed this year while further consideration is given to how best to manage the coexistence of vaccination projects and badger control projects in the edge area.
However, it is important to note that bovine TB is one of the greatest animal health threats to the UK. It not only has a devastating impact on our beef and dairy farms but it also costs taxpayers £100 million each year and industry around £50 million each year. I am therefore pleased that Ministers are delivering a 25-year strategy to eradicate this disease and protect the UK's dairy and beef industries. This includes one of the world's most rigorous cattle surveillance programmes, strong movement controls and promoting good biosecurity as well as badger control where the disease is rife.
I believe that the vaccination of badgers against TB using BCG can also enable a level of protection that can help limit the spread of TB to healthy badger populations. The Government is keen to increase the take-up of the ‘Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme’ (BEVS) and to ensure that badger vaccination schemes more generally make a real difference in tackling Bovine TB.
Natural England is currently reviewing its processes for licensing the vaccination of badgers to ensure that licensing is fit for purpose. To enable the review to take place Natural England has instigated a pause in processing requests for new licences and requests to add sites to existing licences. The review is expected to finish in time for the 2020 vaccination season.
The Government remain committed to eradicating this devastating disease and will explore all necessary measures, including badger and cattle vaccinations, to do so.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP
5th November 2019