By Debbie James

A watchdog will take no further action against the Welsh Government following the accidental release of the details of three farms involved in localised badger culls in Wales.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha)released the names and locations of the farms following a freedom of information request by an animal rights group.

The farms had been selected for the Welsh Government badger culling as part of the refreshed bovine TB programme, which involved trapping badgers and removing infected animals.

The animal rights group posted the farm details on social media with calls from some anti-cull extremists to engage in behaviour that could have threatened the safety of farming families.

The FoI report showed that 37 badgers were caught and five were euthanised, costing £382,112 in total.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) raised concerns about the security breach, saying activists could target the farms and their neighbours.

But the information commissioner’s office has now ruled that “further action is not required at this stage”.

Hazel Wright, FUW senior policy officer, said the union recognised that the Welsh government had now put procedures in place to reduce the likelihood of this mistake recurring but added that the “lack of a more robust response’’ by the information commissioner’s office would do little to act as a deterrent against future bad practice.

“Welsh Government was aware that the deliberate or inadvertent release of such information was likely to result in targeting by animal rights extremists, including illegal activity and threats being made,’’ she said.

Dr Wright said many cattle keepers in Wales continue to operate their businesses under a raft of burdensome and costly bovine TB controls, and that under such regulations farmers can receive financial penalties for genuine mistakes or factors outside their control.

“Farmers would naturally expect Welsh Government to be held to account in the same way, mistake or not,” she said.

“The FUW is extremely concerned that, without robust measures to safeguard farming families, cattle keepers in Wales will continue to be placed in a vulnerable position.”

The FUW said it remained “extremely frustrated and alarmed’’ about an existing open access TB information portal and it has raised this issue several times with Welsh rural affairs secretary Lesley Griffiths.