The Government has announced its intention to allow badgers to be culled in the Low Risk Area (LRA) of England.
Farming Minister George Eustice set out the new plans, which follow a recent consultation, in a written statement to parliament today.
Badger control measures will only be available in the LRA in the ‘rare event’ that disease in badgers is linked to infected herds.
Mr Eustice said: “Badger control in the LRA is expected to be permitted only in very exceptional circumstances, where veterinary epidemiologists judge an area to meet the published criteria for a bTB ‘hotspot’.
“This will allow any such outbreaks to be tackled rapidly to prevent bTB from spreading further within the wildlife and cattle populations. It will also help preserve the LRA’s low incidence status.
“Any decision on whether to implement badger control in a specific LRA location will be taken by the Defra Secretary of State after considering all relevant scientific and veterinary advice.
“All the stringent licensing criteria set out in Defra’s Guidance to Natural England will need to be met by the cull company.”
A proposal to pay compensation at 50 per cent of the average market price for any animal brought into a TB breakdown herd which then fails a TB test, as is the case in Wales, has also been approved by Mr Eustice.
The new rules will apply in England from November 1, 2018.
In December last year, the Government announced plans to introduce six-monthly surveillance testing for most herds in the High Risk Area.
This change will take place from ‘early 2020’, when the next generation of TB testing contracts with veterinary delivery partners are established.
The TB strategy review, led by Sir Charles Godfrey, will continue to look at how TB policy can be improved, enhanced or accelerated.