OXFORDSHIRE has narrowly avoided the latest badger culling plans announced by the Government yesterday.

Culling has been given the go-ahead in 10 new areas at high risk of tuberculosis in cattle.

This now means badger culling is taking place in 32 areas across 10 counties – Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Cheshire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Staffordshire and Cumbria.

Councillors and campaign groups have long fought badger culling in Oxfordshire, most recently after a land owner applied for a licence to kill badgers in West Oxfordshire.

It comes as contentious data published by the Government appears to show the rate of TB in cattle has halved in the first two cull areas since the programme began. Wildlife advocates dispute the study as flawed and unscientific

The Government claims that in Gloucestershire, TB has fallen from 10.4 per cent before culling started to 5.6 per cent in the fourth year of the cull, while in Somerset it dropped from 24 per cent to 12 per cent.

A new round of applications for grants to vaccinate badgers for TB has now opened.