The Welsh Assembly's Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, will not challenge Tuesday's Court of Appeal ruling to halt the controversial north Pembrokeshire badger cull, she announced yesterday (Wednesday).

The Court of Appeal ruled that the 2009 TB Eradication (Wales) Order was unlawful as it permitted culling in the whole of Wales, rather than just the pilot area. Ministers conceded the appeal on this point.

The court also ruled that the order was unlawful, as ministers had failed to balance the harm done by killing up to 2,000 badgers with the potential benefits and that they had misinterpreted section 21 of the Animal Health Act (1981) as giving them power to cull if they could achieve a potential reduction in TB which was merely more than trivial or insignificant.

Giving her answer in response to an urgent question, tabled by Assembly Conservative Party Leader, Nick Bourne, Ms Jones said that she had been advised that it was not possible to appeal the court decision.

“My ability to challenge and appeal the decision is limited,” she said. “In fact the advice I have been given is that it is not open to appeal.”

The minister also confirmed that the legal advice given in framing the Order had been provided from within the Assembly Government and stressed that it had been scrutinised and voted through by the Assembly itself.

The minister ruled out vaccination of badgers as an interim measure, as the Order, which gave her power to either cull or vaccinate badgers, has been quashed.

She said that, although she appreciated the concerns of farmers, she would not be able to take any further steps towards a bTB eradication programme until she had had fully considered the judgement and its content, and taken advice from lawyers and officers on the options now available.