A CONTROVERSIAL plan to cull badgers on farmland near Tewkesbury in a bid to tackle the spread of bovine TB has been postponed.

On Tuesday, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told Parliament the trial in the south west of England, which includes parts of Gloucesershire and Worcestershire, is to be put off until next summer.

He blamed the delay on a number of factors, including protracted legal proceedings, police being unable to provide support until after the Olympic and Paralympic Games and new research revealing higher than expected badger numbers in the pilot areas.

Colin Raven, director of Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, welcomed the news.

“This is now the time to grasp the alternative to culling, developing an oral vaccine for badgers and vaccinating cattle,”

he said.

“TB is very serious but we need to find solutions that will make a difference in the long term and continue carrying out bio-security measures by avoiding contact between cattle and badgers.”

As we previously reported, a proposed test area for a six-week trial encompassed parts of the districts of Wychavon and the Malvern Hills, as well as the Forest of Dean and Tewkesbury.

Another test area was set to be targeted near Taunton in Somerset.

Exact details of the areas were never revealed.

The scheme would have seen the shooting of badgers as part of efforts to tackle TB in cattle.

Some farmers say the cull is necessary to stop the spread of the disease, but the plans have been strongly opposed.