THE government has confirmed today that badger culling is coming to Herefordshire.

Seven additional licences for badger control measures have been confirmed covering parts of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, with operations now underway.

The news was leaked last week to the BBC but it is only today that the government has confirmed it.

Chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens said: "Action to prevent infection of cattle from significant reservoirs of TB infection in local badger populations is an essential part of the government’s 25-year strategy to eradicate bovine TB in England.

"Proactive badger control is currently the best available option and the licensing of further areas is necessary to realise disease control benefits at regional rather than at local levels."

The government says bovine TB costs taxpayers more than £100 million every year and England has the highest incidence of the disease in Europe.

In 2015 alone more than 28,000 cattle had to be slaughtered in England to control the disease.

Mr Gibbens said: "In 2015 badger control operations in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset were all successful in meeting their targets, and the government announced in December that it wanted to see badger control over a wider number of areas in 2016."

But people opposed to the cull said it is inhumane and cruel and there is no scientific proof that badgers pass TB to cattle.

Claire Bass, the Humane Society International/UK's executive director, said: “It is both shocking and sad that the government is expanding this cruel ‘pilot’ policy to three new counties.

“England’s badgers are being needlessly killed as scapegoats, part of a ‘smoke and mirrors’ attempt to, appease farmers and detract attention and resources away from an effective long-term solution to bovine TB.

“In Wales, where the government has rejected badger culling in favour of stricter controls over cattle testing, cattle movement and on-farm biosecurity, there has been a marked decrease in new herd incidents. This is a disease spread primarily from cattle to cattle so it’s only logical that the effort should be put into stopping spread of the disease on farms, between cows."