The Crown Estate is to allow a pilot badger cull to take place on one of its Westcountry estates.
The six-week schemes are designed to test the methodology of shooting free- running badgers. Natural England, the Government’s environment watchdog, has already granted a licence for the pilot in west Gloucestershire.
But the second licence for the cull in Somerset has been delayed, reportedly due to a legal issue concerning the Crown Estate, which owns the 3,800 hectare Dunster Estate.
A Crown Estate spokesman said it was working with Natural England to provide access. He said: “The Crown Estate recognises that bovine TB is a major problem for farmers, including our tenants, and is co-operating with Natural England to allow access to our land for the pilot schemes.”
The announcement prompted an immediate reaction from animal rights activists, who have already pledged to try to disrupt the cull. One was reported as saying: “The Crown Estate will be getting phone calls and there may well be people going to their offices with megaphones and pictures of dead badgers.”