Oct 23 2012
Controversial Government plans to cull thousands of badgers are set to be delayed amid questions over the cost and effectiveness of the scheme.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is expected to make a Commons statement confirming that a pilot cull in the south west of England is to be put back until next year.
But the Environment Department (Defra) says it is committed to the policy and wants the cull to go ahead as soon as possible.
The Guardian reported that the last-minute delay follows a survey which found there were almost twice as many badgers as previously thought in the cull area - dramatically raising the cost of the plan.
Farmers say the cull is necessary to tackle tuberculosis in cattle but the plans have been strongly opposed by wildlife campaigners.
Ministers had previously strongly backed the scheme and the decision to put it on hold marks the latest in a series of setbacks for the Government which culminated last week in the resignation of chief whip Andrew Mitchell.
Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said: "The Government's handling of the badger cull has been incompetent and shambolic. Labour has warned the Government for two years that a cull was bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife, and it is right that it has been delayed."