Three local MPs have added their voices to the growing call to support badger vaccination in the fight against bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in the East Sussex area.
During meetings last week in Westminster, members of the Sussex Badger Vaccination Project received strong endorsement of their approach from Brighton MPs, Simon Kirby (Con, Kemptown) and Caroline Lucas (Green, Pavilion), as well as Wealden MP (Con), Charles Hendry. All three gave their backing to this approach as preferable to the government's current strategy in endemic areas of badger culling.
Simon Kirby immediately requested a meeting about this with David Cameron and has a meeting today (Wed 5 Feb) with the Environment Minister. He is calling for the Government to back plans to vaccinate badgers in East Sussex against bTB.
Mr Kirby said "I believe a pilot badger vaccination programme in the high risk area of East Sussex would make a significant contribution to the scientific debate on the issue, and potentially prove that vaccination offers a cost effective solution in the fight against bTB". He is keen to see Government support to allow SBVP to expand its operations and carry out a pilot vaccination programme as an effective alternative to culling in East Sussex.
Kate Edmonds, director of SBVP said: "We're delighted to have the support of so many of our local MPs across all parties. We believe we're on the verge of a breakthrough. East Sussex cries out to be a test-case for this approach. Farmers and landowners who we've approached have shown enthusiasm about this because it's a positive step they can take immediately". SBVP are keen to hear from farmers in the area and are ready to start vaccinating once the "season" opens in late spring.
Ms Edmonds added: "As a volunteer-run group, we're able to offer vaccination at very low cost compared with commercial rates, and at a fraction of the cost of culling".
SBVP is a volunteer run group, a unique collaboration between Badger Trust, Sussex, South Downs Badger Protection Group, East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) and International Animal Rescue. For more information, please contact Kate Edmonds on 01323 870483, email SBVP or visit www.sussexbadgervac.co.uk
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Trevor Weeks MBE - East Sussex WRAS: 07931 523958