THE NFU has said it will no longer be pursuing a judicial review of Defra Minister Hilary Benn’s decision not to allow a licensed badger cull to control bovine TB.
However, the Union has said it remains committed to a legal challenge, following the Minister’s comments to an Efra committee.
NFU director of policy Martin Haworth said: “While the initial view was that the Secretary of State’s announcement on July 7 could be challenged by judicial review, subsequent guidance to Natural England, published on September 2, made the success of such a challenge much less likely.
“We have therefore taken the decision not to pursue a judicial review on the Secretary of State’s announcement, although remain open to the possibility of a judicial review on a separate point of law.
“This emphatically does not mean we have abandoned any idea of challenging this policy, however.
“After detailed consideration, the union is assessing other legal avenues and we remain committed to supporting a challenge to what we believe is an unlawful restriction on producers’ ability to take action to prevent the spread of TB on their farms.”
Mr Benn angered the NFU, and other farming bodies, when he told Efra that the creation of the new TB Eradication Group, announced last month, did not signal a change in Government direction.
Although farming bodies were hopeful that the group might look at the possibility of a cull if the scientific evidence supported such a move, Mr Benn told the MPs he had not come to the hearing to tell them he had changed his mind.