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Tensions rise as Pembroke badger cull looms

1 June 2010 - BBC News

By Iolo ap Dafydd BBC Wales environment correspondent

Tensions are increasing in north Pembrokeshire as the Welsh Assembly Government's (WAGs) plans for a badger cull create anger and fear. The WAG will not say when the badger killing scheme is to start, but it is believed to be imminent. The badger killing has been ordered as part of a so-called "pilot" project to cut bovine TB.

The scheme has faced vocal opposition from some campaigners, including the Badger Trust, which recently lost a legal bid to halt the project. John Davies, the Pembrokeshire council leader, is also a farmer, and is worried about the effect on relations between neighbours with opposing views on the cull. "What is of great concern to myself is the tensions that seem to be brewing in the land amongst communities, between neighbours where there is a difference," he said. "Everyone is entitled to have a different opinion on this matter... democracy has spoken and whether we agree with the consequence of that democratic process we have to abide by it. A lot of people are too afraid to speak on this matter."

Many farmers who back the badger cull as one method of many to quash TB which has infected their cows are unwilling to talk in public. There are fears they may be targeted for voicing their support for a policy in this part of Wales to kill a wild animal, which in other parts of the UK is protected by law.

Celia Thomas, chair of Pembrokeshire Against the Cull, said some people still did not realise that it would happen on their land. "They have no idea that there's this order in place that allows the government access," she said. "There are so many smaller landowners who think they can just opt out. Obviously the focus has to be on the bigger farmers and the cull is geared to try and reduce TB breakdowns. But in north Pembrokeshire we have an awful lot of people who aren't part of that network." She said many farmers were concerned that the cull might not be the solution, and her group believed vaccination was a "much better way" of tackling the problem.

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