Ministers only ever envisaged that the badger cull would be a phase in the wider strategy to eliminate bovine TB by 2038. The Government has, therefore, recently held a consultation on proposals to move to the next stage of our campaign against bovine TB. I understand many of my constituents have taken part of this consultation, and I can assure you that ministers will consider these responses very carefully.
The Government’s proposals include plans to stop issuing intensive cull licences for new areas after 2022, and would allow new licences to be cut short after two or three years based on a review of the latest scientific evidence at the time. I understand that supplementary cull licences, granted in some areas after intensive culls are complete, would be strictly limited to two years; and some form of culling would continue to be an option in exceptional localised circumstances.
I am encouraged that work on developing a deployable cattle bovine TB vaccine is on track to be completed within the next five years, with field trials scheduled to commence in the coming months; and that ministers are calling for views on further measures to curb bovine TB, such as further improvements to testing, encouraging increased uptake of farm biosecurity measures, and rewarding low risk cattle purchasing behaviour.
I hope that these developments will allow us to phase out badger culling in the coming years, while continuing to take the fight to bovine TB. I am confident that, through a range of measures, we will be able to achieve our long-term objective of eradicating the disease by 2038.