Mr Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party MLA, Chief Whip and Stormont Agriculture Committee member, has called on the various Executive Ministers “to work together if a workable plan is to be implemented eradicating bovine tuberculosis in badgers”.
Assemblyman Swann is also North Antrim UUP Chairman and a Past President of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster and Past Chairman of the influential Rural Youth Europe organisation.
Mr Swann emphasised it was “absolutely vital” the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Department of the Environment worked closely together to design the proposed Wildlife Intervention Programme.
Assemblyman Swann added: “The Minister of Agriculture has announced a Wildlife Intervention Programme to remove TB-infected badgers from the badger population.
“She intends that this should be done by trapping them, anaesthetising them, testing them for TB, and culling those that are found to be infected with TB.
“While there are many practical difficulties which need to be overcome with such a programme and the Farming Minister’s staff are working through those difficulties, one of the major hurdles to be overcome remains that badgers are a protected species and any such intervention requires the support of the Minister of the Environment.
“It is somewhat surprising that before announcing the programme, the Farming Minister had not engaged more closely with the Department of the Environment.
“All those who want to see the removal of TB equally want to see a robust solution that works. No one wants to have a situation where nothing is done because two departments are at loggerheads.
“My message not just to the Minister of Agriculture, but to the entire Stormont Executive, is to engage with who ever else needs to be involved and bring forward a solution that is acceptable and workable without the time-wasting normally associated with such Government announcements,” urged Assemblyman Swann.
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