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"Area 56"

As most of you know, the badger cull came to Hampshire back in 2021 despite there being no confirmed evidence of badgers as a bTB reservoir or as a confirmed pathway to cattle herd infections here and there being no confirmed cases of any badgers in Hampshire testing positive for bTB at any time. The 2021 cull zone is referred to by Defra and Natural England as "Area 56".

We've been aware of the rough location of Area 56 for some time and know that the cull in that zone is being directed from Brocas Lands Farm on the Englefield Estate just outside the village of Mortimer. We're now able to share a more accurate, but still approximate, map of the entire Area 56 cull zone.

A week or so ago we received copies of two internal Natural England documents entitled "Assessment of plans and projects under regulations 24 or 63 of the Habitats Regulations 2017 (as amended) ("Habitats regulations Assessment") for "IC Area 56 Hampshire". The document is in support of "applications for a licence under the Protection ot Badgers Act 1992 for the purpose of preventing the spread of disease (bovine tuberculosis) to domestic cattle" and dated August 2022.

The paper identifies a number of "Special Areas of Conservation" ("SACs"), "Special Protected Areas" ("SPAs") and "Wetlands of International Importance" ("Ramsar sites") and, importantly, the distances of these sites from the Area 56 cull zone. That information has enabled us to draw up an approximate boundary for the cull area and you can see it using the link here.

It's not 100% accurate as we've no way of knowing the exact data points used to calculate the distance of Area 56 from the SAC and SPA sites in question, but it's good enough to be able to show everyone where badgers have been shot in 2021 and 2022 and where they're likely to be shot later this year and again in 2024.

If you're interested in joining members of North East Hampshire Badger Group, Binfield Badger Group and other interested nature communities to lawfully and peacefully patrol public rights of way in Area 56 this Autumn (evening/nighttime from late August through to early November) then please make yourself known to me.

N.B. As well as the Area 56 information leaked from Natural England we've been provided with a similar document for "Area 67", the new cull zone introduced in Hampshire in 2022. I'll put together a rough boundary map for Area 67 over the next few days based on the information we've been given. We already know it includes the New Forest National Park and land from the Dorset Heathlands right down to the Solent. If you live in or near that area and would like to know more, please give me a shout. I'll post the Area 67 boundary estimate in here as soon as I've worked it out.

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