Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs
In May 2017 the National Assembly for Wales’ Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee published a report on our refreshed TB Eradication Programme. The Committee made a number of recommendations, including:
1. The Welsh Government should set a national target date for Wales to be officially TB free and provide clarity on the process for achieving this.
2. The Welsh Government should set interim targets for the eradication of the disease in each of the three TB regions – high, medium and low
I accepted these recommendations and commissioned the Wales Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) TB Epidemiology Team to investigate options. Today I am pleased to announce a TB eradication target for Wales and interim milestones for each of the TB regions. If we achieve these targets Wales will be Officially TB Free (OTF) between 2036 and 2041.
I will set interim targets, covering 6-year periods, for each of the TB Areas. These regional targets will specify overall reductions in herd incidence as well as the transfer of Spatial Units from higher incidence areas to lower incidence areas. This means, for example, our Low TB Area will expand over time, to cover land currently classified as Intermediate, and our High TB Areas will shrink as their Spatial Units are reclassified to the Intermediate area(s). The regional targets will be set at the beginning of each 6-year period.
The national eradication target date emerges on the basis of the separate regional targets being achieved. When all regions become OTF, it follows that Wales will be OTF as a whole. We will formally assess progress against our targets at the end of each 6-year period, though we will of course continue to report through our quarterly dashboard and monthly statistical releases. The 6-yearly formal review will enable us to establish the next set of interim targets and, if necessary, adjust the national eradication target on the basis of up to date evidence. The concept is explained further in the annex accompanying this statement.
We have made good progress in recent years, with significant reductions in incidence across Wales and I am determined we continue that improvement. The 6-year regional milestones are key. They stress the urgency of the task at hand and reflect my ambition to see important progress in each region during each period. We will use these interim targets to help convey the need for immediate action, to focus minds and to drive the progress necessary to achieve our collective goals.
We have enhanced our TB Eradication Programme and the regional approach to TB eradication is intended to help us achieve our targets. We now need to focus on protecting the Low TB Area from disease incursion and driving down disease in the Intermediate and High TB Areas. Meeting our targets will not be easy. They are intended to be ambitious and to stretch us. Achieving them will require the cooperation and dedication of everyone involved. I am challenging us all, in Government, APHA, industry and our veterinary colleagues, to commit everything to ensuring we eradicate this dreadful disease as soon as it is possible to do so.
1Though three categories were used to define the TB areas in Wales, there are actually 5 discrete TB areas: High-West, High-East, Intermediate-Mid, Intermediate-North, Low TB.