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Protesters try to disrupt badger cull

Marksmen were out in Somerset and Gloucestershire last night as the second badger cull got underway. The government confirmed shooting has started as part of its controversial attempt to prevent the spread of bovine TB in cattle.

This year targets have been lowered to 316 badgers in Somerset, and 615 in Gloucestershire. Overall the aim is for a reduction of 70 per cent in badger populations over the successive culls.

Protesters were also out in both counties trying to disrupt the cull.

Labour MP says Government should listen to the evidence

Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary Credit: PA

Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary has spoken out against the Government's decision to resume culling in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

She says the Government should listen to the scientific evidence and put an end to what she calls 'disastrous badger culls'.

Last year an Independent Expert Panel concluded that these badger culls were ‘ineffective’ and ‘inhumane’, and more recently they have been described as an ‘epic failure’ by the Chief Scientific Advisor to Natural England. But instead of abandoning these appalling culls the Government have chosen to press ahead without any further independent expert monitoring.

Labour has consistently said that to get Bovine TB under control we need to bring in stricter cattle measures and prioritise badger and cattle vaccinations, but these culls are not the answer.

– Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary

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Team Badger speaks out against culls

Team Badger calls for culls to be cancelled Credit: PA

Team Badger, representing 25 different organisations with a total of 2 million supporters, is calling for the second year of badger culling in Somerset and Gloucestershire to be stopped.

It's almost beyond belief that the Government is blundering ahead with a second year of inept and barbaric badger killing. TB in cattle in England is currently at it lowest level in 10 years, the drop being predictably the result of improved husbandry in cattle. So this is a most inappropriate moment for Cameron to be wasting tax payers' money persecuting our wildlife against the advice of every independent scientist in the field; even the Government's own expert panel has branded the cull as ineffective and inhumane.

Current revelations from a whistle blower damn the process even more - making it clear that the numbers the present shooters are working towards are completely unreliable. This cull is a failure and a disgrace - no more than the fulfilment of a dirty promise - which will rebound on this Government at election time.

– Dr Brian May

If you read the document you'll see it is full of caveats about the unreliability of the methods they have used. To then use such methods to derive some target numbers in an attempt to give the culls an air of scientific credibility is an affront to the principles of good science.

– Dr Chris Cheeseman

Second badger cull underway

This year's controversial badger cull in Somerset and Gloucestershire is underway, the Government has announced.

The second year of a four-year scheme has started in the two counties in an attempt to prevent the spread of bovine TB in cattle.

We are pursuing a comprehensive strategy supported by leading vets which includes cattle movement controls, vaccinating badgers in edge areas and culling badgers where the disease is rife. This is vital for the future of our beef and dairy industries, and our nation's food security. At present we have the highest rates of bovine TB in Europe. Doing nothing is not an option and that is why we are taking a responsible approach to dealing with bovine TB.

– Elizabeth Truss MP, Environment Secretary

Somerset Council salary spend 'outrageous'

The Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has accused Somerset County Council of "an outrageous use of public money".

The council has been criticised for spending nearly a third of a million pounds in salary and agency fees to hire its Director of Social Services, Peter Lewis, via a private company.

David Heath MP raised the issue in Parliament today.

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The West Country at Westminster

Taking part in this month's show are Sarah Newton, the Conservative MP for Truro and Falmouth, the Liberal Democrat MP for Thornbury & Yate Steve Webb - who is also Minister of State for Pensions - and Anne Snelgrove, Labour's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Swindon South. She held the seat until the 2010 General Election.

Up for discussion was the forthcoming Scottish Referendum, a split in the Tory party over Europe, and the Lib Dem's new initiative for free school meals for all children in state-funded schools aged 7 and under.

Farming minister outlines plans for culls

Farming minister outlines plans for culls Credit: PA

The pilot badger culls are set to start again in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Farming minister George Eustice outlined the plans for the culls, which are expected to begin as early as tonight. To fulfil the licensing criteria, marksmen will have to cull at least 615 badgers in Gloucestershire and 316 in Somerset to reach the estimated target of removing 70% of the badger population.

Anti-cull campaigners begin patrols

Badger cull expected to resume tonight Credit: PA

People fighting the resumption of the badger cull began patrolling last night in West Somerset because they believe the cull is imminent.

There was no sign of culling activity, but reports are growing that the cull is due to begin tonight.

Anti-cull campaigners gathered last night expecting the badger cull to resume Credit: Somerset Against the Badger Cull

Transport Minister opens £13m car park

Baroness Kramer and other dignitaries cross some of the 700 spaces at the £13m car park at Bristol Parkway Credit: ITV West

Bristol Parkway Station now has 700 more parking spaces.

The Transport Minister Baroness Kramer officially opened the new car park this morning. It cost £13 million to build.

First Great Western expects Bristol Parkway to become much busier once the Great Western mainline is electrified.

The Transport Minister Baroness Kramer unveils the all-important plaque Credit: ITV West

Baroness Kramer says the investment will pay off in the future.

This is for the long term. This is anticipating there are going to be many more people coming in as we get more trains, faster trains, increase in service quality, and that means that we've got it there now to serve the next generation of users for this station. So it's not just a quick response to a short-term demand

– Baroness Kramer, Transport Minister
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