Labour has launched a campaign against government proposals to cull badgers in England as part of efforts to tackle bovine TB.

Shadow environment minister Mary Creagh has written to more than 25,000 supporters of previous countryside and animal welfare campaigns to ask them to lobby their MPs on the cull.

The party has also launched an online petition in a bid to get people to show their opposition to the plans.

Labour ministers have long opposed killing badgers as a method of eradicating the disease in England.

Hilary Benn, DEFRA secretary in the last Labour government, refused to back a cull as he said he did not believe the science showed it would be an effective solution to tackling the disease.

He was replaced as shadow environment minister on DEFRA issues by Ms Creagh, who is MP for Wakefield, earlier this year, who shares his views.

“The Government’s plans have been criticised by leading scientists as an untested solution which may increase the problem, as badgers wander further afield once shooting begins,” she said.

“The Government’s own impact assessment states that ‘costs exceed expected monetised benefits’.”

Bovine TB was a terrible disease, but plans for a badger cull were bad for farmers, badgers and taxpayers,” she added,

“We need a science-led policy to manage cattle movements and develop a vaccine to tackle TB in badgers and cattle.

“Instead the Tory-led Government has reduced the number of vaccine trials Labour commissioned to just one.”

She added that opposition to the plans for a cull were growing.

DEFRA minister Caroline Spelman said last month that she was ‘minded’ to support a badger cull in England’s TB hotspots.

 “Ultimately, we want to be able to vaccinate both cattle and badgers and we’re investing in research. But we simply can’t afford to keep waiting,” she said.

DEFRA is currently holding another consultation on the issue, which runs until September 20.

Have your say on this topic on our badger cull in England forum.