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Gloucestershire badger cull misses target by over half

Gloucestershire's badger cull this year missed its minimum target by over half. The figures were published today. Just 274 badgers were culled in the second year of the scheme, falling far short of the minimum 615 estimated to be needed to deliver reductions in the disease in livestock.

Somerset exceeded its target by a small number of badgers. 341 were culled, in a required range of 316 to 785.

In both of the pilot areas, a significant proportion were killed by the more expensive cage trapping and shooting method, rather than "controlled shooting" of free-running badgers.

Shadow Environment Secretary Maria Eagle says alternatives to culling need to be considered.

Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Maria Eagle Credit: PA

The target set in Gloucestershire has been spectacularly missed whilst the Somerset target was only narrowly reached, meaning that, if anything, these culls will make the problem of bovine TB worse.

The Government must today commit to abandoning any attempt to continue these unscientific, inhumane and ineffective badger culls.

They must instead work with scientists, wildlife groups and farmers to develop an alternative strategy to get the problem of bovine TB under control.

– Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary

New plans to combat bovine TB will include culling

New plans to combat bovine TB will include the culling of badgers Credit: PA

Further measures to combat bovine TB have been revealed following the announcement of the results of the second year of badger culls.

An action plan for farmers sets out plans to help reduce the risk of disease spread on their farms. There will be a new service giving farmers within the badger cull areas bespoke veterinary advice on TB management.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss says the new approach will continue to include culling.

During the last parliament bovine TB rates in England soared to the highest in Europe. That is why we taking strong action in pursuing our comprehensive strategy, including tighter cattle movement controls, vaccinations and culling.

The Chief Vet’s advice is that results of this year’s cull in Somerset show they can be effective. That is why I am determined to continue with a comprehensive Strategy that includes culling.

– Elizabeth Truss, Environment Secretary

There are also plans for a consultation on tougher measures for transporting cattle. An online map will show high and low risk areas. The Government has awarded £50,000 in small grants to livestock markets to help them introduce checking systems.

Independently audited results of the badger culls show cull figures for the year, and says that levels of humaneness and a high standard of public safety were maintained. In Somerset the target was exceeded.

  • 341 badgers removed in Somerset
  • 274 badgers removed in Gloucestershire

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'A very good day' for Somerset's flood defences

People in Somerset will have more power over managing flood risk thanks to a deal signed by the government today.

The new £2.7 million Somerset Rivers Authority will start work next year to reduce the risk of the kind of flooding the region suffered with last winter.

Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger praised the new initiative.

Fears that Hinkley nuclear plant is being delayed

The site for the proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley in the shadow of the existing reactors Credit: ITV News

There are growing fears that the European Commission is delaying the building of a new power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. It's still to sign off all the building regulations surrounding the project.

Today Labour south west MEP Claire Moody will meet the Commission to try to speed up the process.

Government promises £15.5m for flood defences

More than £4 million will go to flood prevention on the Somerset Levels & Moors Credit: PA

The Government will spend £15.5 million on flood defences in Somerset over the next six years.

More than £4 million (4.2) will be spent on the Somerset Levels and moors.

7,000 properties are expected to benefit from the money - which is part of at least £35 million committed to Somerset over the next eight years.

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Prime Minister says Britain can't afford not to upgrade road network

David Cameron being questioned at Stonehenge this afternoon Credit: ITV News West Country

The Prime Minister has insisted that Britain can afford the £15bn road improvements announced by the Coalition today which include plans to dual the A303 and take the road through a tunnel under Stonehenge.

Mr Cameron visited Stonehenge this afternoon where he said that Britain "can't afford not to do this"

The south west is an absolutely vital part of our country and this is going to delivering expressway effectively - dual carriageway all the way between the M3 and the M5. Its going to make a huge difference.Its going to make sure that economic growth we have will spread to every part of our country

– David Cameron, Prime Minister

Nick Clegg pledge on roads improvement money

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg has told ITV News that the allocation of money for billions of pounds worth of road improvements will be enshrined in law.

He was speaking at Stonehenge where he made the announcement of more than 80 new road schemes costing £15bn. This includes a plan to dual the A303 which will take the road under Stonehenge.

Taunton Deane welcomes A358 plans

THE Government’s announcement that it is to invest in vital improvements to the A358 between Taunton and the A303 near Ilminster is being celebrated by civic leaders in Taunton Deane.

The improvement, announced today, is part of £2 billion of investment in roads in the South West, with the improvements to the A303 at Sparkford and the A358 Taunton link being the first to enter construction.

“We recognise the frustration and concerns about the roads congestion at present which is caused by an inadequate road system.

“I am delighted the Government has at last helped us to find a solution to this long outstanding problem that has so long held back our economy. Our community has suffered excessive congestion and air pollution for far too long.

– Cllr John Williams, Leader of the Borough Council

Yeovil MP welcomes road improvement plans

Yeovil MP David Laws has welcomed the road improvements Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Yeovil MP David Laws has welcomed the Government's plans to dual the A303 and A358, all the way from the M3 to the M5 at Taunton.

The plan does not involve dualling the A303 over the sensitive Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding National Beauty, but instead there will be smaller scale improvements to this stretch of road. The whole plan is expected to take over a decade to deliver. The most expensive parts are a 2.9km tunnel (costing £1.2bn) around Stonehenge, and the £300m dualling of the A358, from Ilminster to the M5 at Taunton.

‘I am absolutely delighted that the Coalition Government is going ahead with this significant plan to upgrade the A303 and the A358 – neither of which are currently fit for purpose. Current levels of road congestion and delays are unacceptable, and it is totally inappropriate that a busy A303 runs right past Stonehenge – a monument of world heritage importance.

‘I have been campaigning for this plan for many years, and it has taken a Coalition Government with a strong Liberal Democrat membership to finally secure some action.

‘The plan is exactly what I have wanted – with the A303 dualled from Ilminster eastwards, and the A358 dualled up to the M5 at Taunton.

‘This is good news for travel across the region and within Somerset – making it easier for my constituents to access Taunton, the M5 and the M3.

– David Laws MP
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