THE Environment Secretary has ignored the county’s community leaders over badger cull safety, claims campaign group Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting.

A badger cull scrutiny task group was established by the county council in January to look at the social and economic impact of the badger cull on members of the public as well as public bodies in Gloucestershire.

In July the task group sent their recommendations to the various bodies included in the report such as Gloucestershire police, local councils and the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

According to GABS all agencies named in the report other than Defra have responded to the task group’s recommendations.

GABS spokesman Jeanne Berry said: “We are appalled but not surprised that Liz Truss, the new Secretary of State for Defra, has not taken the time to respond to the issues raised by the cross party Badger Cull Task Group.

“The report concluded that the cull was not properly managed or transparent last year and councillors recommendations included that local people be told where and when the cull would be taking place in the county.

“The Secretary of State should have the courtesy to respond to the work of local councillors to help protect local residents especially in the light of the most recent revelations from those involved in organising last year’s cull.

“A whistleblower has confirmed that some of the cull operators were out of control and carrying out culling on golf courses and were acting recklessly using high velocity rifles when members of the public were present.”

In April the government announced it had abandoned plans to extend the badger cull to other areas of England but the pilot four year culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire would continue – although without an independent oversight to assess their future performance.

Although no official announcement has been about the start of this year’s cull it is believed that it will begin at some point in the next couple of months.

“We do not believe that the cull should be coming back to Gloucestershire when it was not considered to be good enough for the rest of the country,” added Jeanne.

“Members of GABS will be out in the cull zone every night when the cull starts to help look for wounded badgers as this policy has been confirmed as being inhumane and ineffective.”

The task group found that there has been a significant failing to define the role and responsibilities of public bodies during the cull and without clarity around where responsibility sits, the planning and coordination of the cull and the ability to respond to issues has been severely compromised.

It also recommended that Defra should be the body responsible for the cull.

Cllr Paul McMahon, chairman of GCC’s Badger Cull Task Group said: “Our report, which considered the social and economic impact of the badger cull on the people of Gloucestershire, was formally submitted to the secretary of state on Monday, July 7 and we are now awaiting a response.”

A Defra Spokesperson said: “We are grateful to Gloucestershire County Council for the report into the badger cull last year and we will be responding shortly.

“The badger cull in Gloucestershire is one part of a broad and balanced programme supported by leading vets to deal with bovine TB, which is threatening our beef and dairy industries.”