A NEW round of badger culling to tackle tuberculosis in cattle has been given the go ahead in Dorset, it has been announced.

Licences for badger culling in parts of Devon, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset and Cheshire were announced as the government said it was also restarting a badger vaccination programme to stop the spread of the disease to new areas.

A new advisory service for farmers that will provide advice on farms, by phone and email, to livestock owners in areas at high risk or on the edge of the areas suffering the disease, is being launched in the autumn.

The government has committed to rolling out culling to more areas, saying it is necessary to curb TB in cattle as badgers can transmit the disease to livestock, but opponents say it is inhumane and ineffective and vaccinations should be pursued instead.

Farming minister George Eustice said: "Bovine TB (bTB) not only has a devastating impact on our beef and dairy farms, but causes harm and distress to infected cattle.

"We have a clear plan to eradicate the disease over the next 20 years, and this year we are restarting the government-backed badger edge vaccination scheme to stop the disease spreading to new areas."

The Environment Department (Defra) said that in 2016, operations in Somerset, Gloucestershire, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Herefordshire and Wiltshire were all successful in meeting their targets for culling badgers.