Badgers Close Road
A country road in Suffolk has been closed for four months because badgers have burrowed beneath the tarmac causing the road to partially collapse. As badgers are a heavily protected species, the Council has been forced to negotiate a remedy with Natural England. This will involve the installation of one-way gates at each of the badgers’ setts, preventing the badgers digging new entrances and returning to the sett. Thereafter there is a period of 21 days to ensure there is no activity before the road can be repaired. If there is evidence of badgers, action has to be taken and the 21 day period starts again.
Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome
Scientists at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh have developed a pig that is immune to PRRS, a deadly respiratory disease that causes massive losses worldwide. The removal of a tiny part of the pig’s DNA prevents the virus causing the disease from gaining a foothold on the surface of pig cells. The gene edit is permanent so disease resistance will be passed down through the generations by natural breeding. No foreign DNA was introduced during the procedure, opening up the debate about which biotechnology techniques are acceptable and should be allowed in mainstream farming.
Co-op Environmental Gains
Farmers who supply the Co-op supermarket have achieved significant environmental enhancement according to the retailer’s new sustainability tool, Enviro-Map. 1,000 miles of new hedges have been planted, 116 hectares of wildflower meadows sown and 455 hectares of watercourses and wetlands created to provide habitat for kingfishers and lapwing. Many of those farmers have also taken to renewable energy generated by solar panels and wind turbines.
Giving evidence to the Parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Secretary of State Michael Gove has announced that the Agriculture Bill, laying out the future for farming and the countryside following secession from the EU, will be published in July before the parliamentary summer recess. This is several months earlier than anticipated, particularly considering that the consultation on the command paper elicited 44,000 responses.