Protesters are seeking legal advice following this week’s announcement that the Welsh Assembly Government intends to go ahead with a controversial badger cull in north Pembrokeshire and parts of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

Announcing her decision rural affairs minister Elin Jones said she had decided to go ahead “after considering all the evidence” and responses to a second consultation held at the end of last year.

The cull, which forms part of the government’s strategy to deal with bovine TB, has been welcomed by farmers unions, including the FUW and NFU.

But protest groups, including the Badger Trust -- which won a challenge in the Court of Appeal and stopped the cull proposed last year from going ahead – were disappointed at the announcement.

The Badger Trust says it will seek new legal advice . “We are deeply disappointed that the Welsh Assembly Government has resurrected its pointless proposal,” said the Trust in a statement. "We will be studying in detail the evidence presented to the minister and will be seeking legal advice."

Pembrokeshire Against the Cull (PAC) claimed the minister had "again ignored the science, sound economics, human rights issues and the views of the overwhelming majority of the public".

RSPCA wildlife scientist Colin Booty said the cull was "a dead-end policy in every respect".

But Elin Jones remains convinced that a cull, combined with a range of biosecurity measures and controls on cattle movements is the only way to eradicate bTB from the area.

She said: “This is not a decision that any government minister, myself included, takes lightly."

She added: “I am aware that this decision will cause some people genuine concern, but it is a decision that I have taken based on full consideration of the matter, including the substantial scientific evidence available and after careful consideration of the responses to the public consultation.”

If the order is not opposed by AMs in the Senedd it is due to come into force on March 31, otherwise there will be a debate and a vote in the Senedd. The Assembly Government says it cannot set a date for the start of the cull.