The legal challenge to the Welsh Assembly Government’s badger culling trials is under way.

A judicial review application by anti-cull campaigners, The Badger Trust, has been put before Mr Justice Lloyd-Jones at the High Court in Swansea at the start of the two-day hearing (22-23 March).

Should the judge allow the initial application, the main hearing will follow immediately afterwards.

The Trust said it wanted the matter dealt with quickly because the Welsh Assembly Government planned to implement the cull within weeks.

Trust spokesman Jack Reedy admitted the legal challenge was costing the charity “many thousands of pounds”.

But he added: “This particular course of legal action is available to us and we wouldn’t be doing our duty in connection with the welfare of the species if we didn’t not pursue it.”

“We have been to a lot of trouble to make our case. It is principally a challenge of the legality of the decision on the grounds that the science does not support the departure from the provisions set down by law.

“Secondly we are making a formal complaint about the Order under the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.”

Chairman of the Badger Trust, David Williams, will be present at the hearing.

A preliminary decision is expected by the end of the month.

If the legal challenge fails, five culls will take place within a 288sq km pilot area where the Welsh assembly government has said 42% of cattle owners have had at least one case of TB in their herd since 2003.

The first cull will take place after the badger breeding season ends in May.