Although starting dates for the cull, its duration and the location have yet to be decided, it looks likely the cull will focus on South West Wales or a county bordering England where bovine TB is endemic.

The decision taken by the Welsh Assembly puts increased pressure on ministers in England to carry out a similar cull in the worst-affected English counties. Visit the Welsh Assembly website to read its press release.

A sum of £27 million has been allocated over the next three years to attempt to eradicate the disease, which Wales’s chief vet, Christianne Glossop, describes as being “out of control among herds”.

The decision to go ahead with a cull is likely to produce a hostile response from conservationists.

The RSPCA and The Badger Trust have already condemned the decision and are growing increasingly concerned the Welsh Assembly judgment may be the catalyst that leads to the start of more widespread culling throughout the UK.

Wales currently has the worst TB infection rate in the UK and the number of confirmed cases has increased dramatically over the past decade, with a total of 7,905 cattle in Wales slaughtered last year.

The Badger Trust believes it is the larger herd sizes employed in modern farming practices that are to blame for the dramatic increase in TB – and not cattle being infected by badgers carrying the disease.

Farmers have welcomed the decision (see the NFU website) although many believe that a cull should have taken place long before the problem was allowed to become so widespread.