A GOVERNMENT decision to continue culling badgers in the battle against bovine TB was the only sensible one to take, says MP Ian Liddell-Grainger.

He claims that despite the widespread protests it met with initially, the culling programme had been a success.

And during a Parliamentary debate this week he welcomed news that the operation was being extended.

“There are literally hundreds of farmers who have had the spectre of TB removed from their lives and thousands of cattle in the fields that might otherwise have had to be slaughtered,” he said.

The southwest was one of the first parts of the country where culling was initiated to remove the pool of infectivity contained within a badger population that had grown exponentially since the animals were given legal protection.

Initially protestors tried to disrupt the night-time shooting and there were reports of the marksmen involved being intimidated.

But the more the culling has continued and the more TB rates in cattle have fallen the less vociferous have the campaigners become.

Mr Liddell-Grainger represents West Somerset but will be the Conservative candidate in the General Election for a new constituency covering the Culm Valley and parishes around Wellington. He said he knew of dozens of farmers who were immensely grateful to have TB-free herds.

“This was never intended to wipe out the badger population, merely to get it back to a manageable size and disease-free status - and no other approach has worked as well as culling,” he said.