POSTPONING a planned cull of badgers has today been welcomed by one of Buckinghamshire's representatives in Europe.

The proposed cull has been put on ice for at least a year, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson announced in the House of Commons today.

Under the plans several thousand badgers in Gloucestershire and west Somerset would have been shot by trained marksmen in a bid to reduce levels of bovine tuberculosis.

But a temporary halt has now been called and Labour MEP Peter Skinner, who campaigned against the cull, welcomed the decision.

The MEP for the south east of England said: "The Government's handling of the badger cull has been incompetent and shambolic. An in-depth ten year study showed a cull would never work yet for the past two years they have been pushing for it anyway.

"Labour has warned the Government that a cull was bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife, and it is right that it has been delayed.

"I welcome this postponement, but this must not be a temporary reprieve. This should mark an end to all cull plans but the Government has said it is committed to restart next year.

"Science, the public and MPs from all parties had said very clearly that a cull is no answer to bovine TB. We’ll be here next year to make sure that message continues to be heard."

An e-petition to the government protesting at the proposals, created by Queen guitarist Brian May, attracted more than 160,000 signatures.