A CONTROVERSIAL order to cull badgers in Wales was quashed by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

The Badger Trust appealed after a High Court judge upheld Assembly Government plans to trap and shoot badgers in West Wales.

It was among measures intended to eradicate bovine tuberculosis from north Pembrokeshire and neighbouring areas.

But Lord Justice Pill said the Welsh Assembly was wrong to make an order for the whole of Wales when it consulted on the basis of an Intensive Action Pilot Area which only supported a cull on evidence within the IAPA.

The Tuberculosis Eradication (Wales) Order was made last September to allow a non-selective cull of badgers in Wales.

Although it was supported by farming unions, some landowners objected and there were clashes between protesters and contractors surveying badger setts.

Lord Justice Pill said: “There is no doubt that farming is a very important part of the Welsh economy and that bovine TB is a particularly serious problem in Wales.”

He said the Badger Trust promoted conservation and welfare of badgers and the protection of their setts and habitats.

They were just as concerned about ways to tackle bovine TB and were not completely opposed to culls but only where it could be proved to be effective, and that was not the case in Wales.

The appeal judge said Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones was entitled to conclude the evidence did demonstrate the chance of a substantial reduction in TB in livestock within the IAPA.

He added that, if the order had been confined to the IAPA in north Pembrokeshire, he would have dismissed the appeal.

But he said: “As countries go, Wales is a small country but there will be situations, of which this is one, where power devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government will need to be exercised on a regional basis within Wales and not made subject to a single regime.”

First Minister Carwyn Jones said the Assembly Government was looking at the ruling, adding: “It’s important that we deal with TB in Wales because it’s a problem that is growing.”

A spokesman for animal welfare charity the RSPCA said: “We always had concerns that the proposed legislation applied to the whole of Wales and should have been more specific.

“This is a timely reminder about the importance of meticulous attention to detail before any culling regime is considered.”