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Concern at Shropshire NFU as badger cull to be reviewed

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The chairman of the National Farmers Union in Shropshire today said he was 'disappointed' a judicial review had been granted following protests against plans for a trial cull of badgers to control the spread of TB in livestock.

The chairman of the National Farmers Union in Shropshire today said he was 'disappointed' a judicial review had been granted following protests against plans for a trial cull of badgers to control the spread of TB in livestock.

Farmers and the Government say a cull is a necessary measure in order to tackle the spread of tuberculosis in livestock.

But the proposals to kill badgers, which are a protected species, in two pilot areas have faced strong opposition from animal welfare and wildlife groups.

The Badger Trust last week challenged the cull proposed by Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

It argued that the move would not prevent the spread of the disease and could in fact increase the numbers of animals affected.

But county NFU chairman Rob Alderson said that it was time to get on with a cull.

In Shropshire, farmers have long blamed badgers for spreading the disease, which, they say, costs the industry and taxpayers £100 million each year.

The number of cattle slaughtered in 2003 in Shropshire was 473 but that figure had increased to 2,165 by 2010.

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Mr Alderson said that TB was only a problem in certain areas of the country, but it had been 'spreading and spreading' while people debated what to do about it.

"The NFU is very much behind the control of the disease, which means the culling of certain badgers in hot spots," he said.

He said that culls in Ireland had reduced the number of TB cases by up to 70 per cent, adding: "I think it's most definitely time to let the control of TB move forward."

Pilot culls were to be introduced in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset this year, and could also be introduced in Wales.

The Badger Trust's solicitor, Gwendolen Morgan of Bindmans LLP, said: "The badger cull as proposed would make matters worse at great cost to farmers, badgers and rural communities."

No date has been set for the hearing, but the Badger Trust said it was likely to be held at London's High Court in June. Defra would not comment specifically on the judicial review.

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