Wales politics

NFU frustration over Welsh Government TB review delay

Image caption The planned badger cull is on hold pending an independent review

Farming leaders have accused the Welsh Government of a lack of action over the appointment of experts to review part of its bovine TB policy.

A west Wales badger cull was put on hold in June and it was announced a panel would examine the science.

National Farmers' Union (NFU) officials at the Royal Welsh Show have voiced frustration and disappointment that no more announcements have been made.

The Welsh Government said it was fully committed to eradicating bovine TB.

Last month, the Labour Welsh Government's Environment Minister John Griffiths said there would be no cull while the independent panel carried out its work.

The previous government, a Labour-Plaid coalition, had planned the cull alongside other measures to control TB in cattle in an area of north Pembrokeshire - the so-called Intensive Action Area.

The cull was revived in March, eight months after the coalition was forced to shelve the proposal following a legal challenge by the Badger Trust.

Labour, which is now governing alone, promised a "science-led" approach towards bovine TB in its manifesto for May's assembly election.

But speaking ahead of Wales' leading agricultural event in Llanelwedd, Powys, NFU Cymru's president Ed Bailey condemned the review's lack of progress.

Mr Bailey said: "Four weeks have now passed by since the environment minister stood up in plenary to announce that an expert panel would peer review the scientific evidence base regarding the eradication of bovine TB in Wales.

"NFU Cymru is extremely frustrated and disappointed that no further announcements have been made to date with regards to the make-up of the peer review group, the terms of reference and exact timescales to which the group will be working.

"At the time of the announcement our fear was that this was just a delaying tactic and as each week goes by the continued silence and inaction from Welsh Government makes me fear that our initial concerns are now being realised."

'Glimmer of hope'

Mr Bailey said he hoped Mr Griffiths would use his visit to the show on Tuesday to give "us a glimmer of hope that there has been some progress made on this review since 21 June".

He also said he hoped that plans put in place by the previous government had "not just been kicked into the long grass".

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "The Welsh Government has made it perfectly clear that we remain fully committed to eradicating bovine TB in Wales.

"This science-led review, which is being co-ordinated by the chief scientific adviser for Wales, Professor John Harries, is intended to support and strengthen this work."

Three weeks ago the heads of the three regional bovine TB eradication boards in Wales resigned claiming they had been "badly misled" by the Welsh Government.

John Owen, Peredur Hughes and Bob Stevenson stepped down, saying they were not consulted on a delay to a planned badger cull.

The Welsh Government said at the time that their resignations were regrettable, but it was committed to eradicating bovine TB.

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