NFU Cymru has backed Welsh Assembly plans for a limited badger cull to control bovine tuberculosis.

The proposals for a cull form part of the assembly’s TB eradication order, which the union said would put in place the legal framework necessary to implement a successful eradication strategy.

Dai Davies, NFU Cymru president, claimed it could help the Welsh countryside return to a situation where healthy cattle lived alongside a healthy wildlife population.

“Having studied evidence from the UK and around the world, we are adamant that the only way to eradicate bovine TB is through the removal of badgers from infected areas of Wales in conjunction with cattle control measures,” Mr Davies insisted.

“There has been a significant tightening up of cattle measures in Wales in recent years, but these alone have failed to curb the escalation of the disease.”

The union also wanted the order to include development of a badger vaccination programme, but added that it must be recognised that this would not address existing infection.

“It is also clear that, while a significant amount of work is taking place on the development of vaccines, we are still some years away from a vaccination strategy that can deliver benefits in terms of a reduction in the number of herd breakdowns.”

But the Badger Trust attacked the proposed order, under the Animal Health Act 1981, as perverse, politically motivated and without any significant scientific validation.

“Recent history, the best peer-reviewed science and commonsense all say that this is a flawed, futile, irrational decision,” a Trust statement claimed.

Commonsense indicated that millions of cattle movements spread bTB, but the Trust insisted that commonsense was “in short supply” where pro-cull activists were concerned.

The assembly plans to draft the secondary legislation in the autumn and introduce badger culling in north Pembrokeshire early next year.