THE Government has announced it has abandoned plans to extend the badger cull to other areas of England.

However, in a Commons statement, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said the pilot four year culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire will continue - although there will be no independent oversight to assess their future performance.

Mr Paterson said: "It is crucial we get this right. That is why we are taking a responsible approach, accepting recommendations from experts to make the pilots better.

"Doing nothing is not an option. Bovine TB is a terrible disease which is devastating our cattle and dairy industries and causing misery for many people in rural communities.

"We need to do everything we can, as set out in our Strategy, to make England TB free."

Leading animal welfare charity Humane Society International UK welcomed the abandonment of the planned roll out of badger culling.

However, it also calls for the abandonment of plans to continue culling in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

A report by the independent expert panel to assess the practice said the claims in the two pilot areas were not effective, and raised questions about their humaneness.

Mark Jones, vet and executive director of Humane Society International UK, is a Gloucestershire resident who took part in numerous Wounded Badger Patrols during the culls last year.

Mr Jones said: “Whilst the abandonment of the planned badger cull roll out this year is a welcome U-turn as well as a damning indictment on DEFRA’s failed culling policy, it is nonetheless utterly indefensible that the government is carrying on regardless with its discredited cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset."