Townspeople bristle over badger problem

The battle of the badgers is heading for the High Court. Mr Justice Kay has given the green light for South Somerset District Council to mount a unique judicial review challenge to the Government's refusal to relocate a badger set in Yeovil which is said to be causing havoc for the creature's human neighbours.

The badgers, around 15 of them, have set up home in a series of tunnels they have burrowed in the St Andrews Road area of Yeovil.

However, their tunnels are undermining gardens and at some points come within a short distance of the houses. The badgers' excavations are also said to be creating a danger to residents: one woman broke her neck in a fall after a set collapsed beneath her.

But the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (Maff) has put the possible risk of the badgers spreading disease above the nuisance and danger they are causing to their human neighbours and has refused to grant a 'translocational' licence for them to be moved.

Mr Justice Kay has now given leave for the council to seek a judicial review of that decision.

The council claims that the Yeovil badgers are disease free. When the case reaches court for the full hearing it will be argued that Maff, which under the provisions of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 has the power to grant translocation licences, has failed to exercise its discretion in the public interest or to take account of the fact that relocation is the only realistic option given the situation at Yeovil.