SPENDING ON the State Veterinary Service in Wales will rocket as part of the attack on the bovine TB epidemic.

Welsh rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones has increased SVS support to deal with TB from the current £1.5m a year to £3.5m in 2006-7.

The extra spend will meet the costs of detailed plans being pushed by the assembly‘s environment committee.

Although still to be announced, it is understood they include a wildlife survey concentrating on badgers and deer.

In potential hotspot areas, the SVS will survey all found-dead, dying and roadkill badgers.

Local game dealers, stalkers and private vets will be reminded on their obligations to report suspect TB cases in deer.

An area will be declared a “potential hotspot” when a TB incident occurs in a low-incidence area, where there has been no other confirmed case for four years within 3km, and the incident cannot be put down to cattle purchased since the previous TB test on the herd.

The Welsh administration expects the TB epidemic to continue to grow for at least the next four years despite a slight decline in TB numbers between Jan 1 and Aug 31.

The £1.4m spent on TB slaughter in 2001-2 has risen to around £5m this year, and an indicative figure of £8m has been written into the budget for 2007-8.

Mr Jones was asked to forecast whether he thought the disease would then be under control.

“A minister in London predicted foot-and-mouth was at last under control, when it proved not to be,” Mr Jones answered.

“No-one can predict. Our aim is to reduce the rise in incidents, and we have to find out why it has increased so much in the last five to six years.”