Opponents of a badger cull in Pembrokeshire have welcomed a new report which warns that the culls are not a cost-effective way of reducing bovine TB in cattle.

The research from Imperial College London, and the Zoological Society of London, also suggests any benefits disappear within four years of the cull.

Data from a badger culling trial by Defra in 1998 show that although levels of bovine TB were reduced during culling and in the first years after it, reductions then declined and became undetectable within four years of the final cull.

Professor Christl Donnelly, from Imperial College, said: “Our new research also suggests that the savings that farmers and the government would make by reducing bTB infections in cattle are two or three times less than the cost of repeated badger culls as undertaken in the trial, so this is not a cost-effective contribution to preventing bTB infections in cattle.”

Celia Thomas, chairman of Pembrokeshire Against the Cull (PAC), said: “This confirms what we have been saying all along – that any paltry gains in TB control from culling are vastly expensive and temporary.”

The proposed cull in north Pembrokeshire was announced in January by Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones, who said: “The approach we will be taking – carrying out a badger cull alongside strict cattle controls – has not been tried in the UK before.”