A PROPOSED pilot badger cull in north Pembrokeshire has been axed by the Welsh Government.

The decision has been branded “a cowardly betrayal of north Pembrokeshire farmers and the Welsh farming industry as a whole” by the Farmers Union of Wales.

Environment Minister John Griffiths said he had opted to vaccinate the animals following a review.

Farmers said they were not opposed to vaccination, but it was not enough on its own.

FUW TB spokesman Brian Walters said: “When AMS previously voted in favour of a badger cull on successive occasions it demonstrated that Wales was willing to take positive steps to eradicate TB, even if those steps were controversial.

“Farmers felt that we were genuinely on the road to eradication and the industry had worked hard in north Pembrokeshire and elsewhere in anticipation of meaningful action.”

The move has been welcomed by a number of groups opposed to the proposal including the RSPCA, Badger Trust and Queen guitarist Brain May.

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb said he though the decision was a “bizarre” change in policy.

“Not only did a cull have cross-party support, it was backed by the farming industry and underpinned by scientific study. Why the change now?

“Across the border action is being taken to tackle the issue of bovine TB with badger culls being piloted in Gloucester and Somerset.

“I am concerned that this u-turn will only allow the problem to continue and increase uncertainty for our rural communities,” he added.