Defra minister Dan Rogerson, MP for North Cornwall, has confirmed the restart of the badger cull in Somerset later this year.

Less than a week after secretary of state Owen Paterson blamed Liberal Democrats for the decision to suspend the roll-out of the cull, Mr Rogerson told farmers of the plans yesterday (Wednesday) at the Bath and West Show.

He said: “The Government remains determined to tackle bovine tuberculosis (bTB) through all available means in both cattle and wildlife. The plan was debated and approved by Parliament last year.”

He added the plan aimed for official UK TB-free status by 2038. Mr Rogerson said: “The badger cull will continue in Gloucestershire and Somerset as planned later this year.

We will assess the lessons learned before extending the cull to other areas.” The minister stressed the need for evidence of the effectiveness of a method of control before it could be rolled out. He confirmed Defra was investigating gassing as a means of culling badgers.

Work is going on in mock-up setts, although there have been no experiments involving animals. John Mortimer, south-west regional director of landowners’ association CLA, thanked Mr Rogerson for his “sound” approach to tackling bTB.

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