NORTH Wiltshire MP James Gray has voiced his support for badger culling as the latest round of the contentious scheme gets underway in the county.

Details of the exact locations of the culling are not being published due to the sensitivity of the subject, but it is believed to be taking place on land and farms near Malmesbury, in an effort to fight the spread of tuberculosis in cattle.

The government has issued fresh licenses that will see the scheme expanded into 11 new areas across the country, bringing the total to 21, which could see more than 30,000 badgers killed.

Those campaigning against the culls argue that there are more humane methods of stopping the spread of bovine TB.

However, Conservative MP James Gray said: “I’m very strongly in support of the badger cull which is proposed for two parts of Wiltshire, one north of the motorway and one south.

“The cull is one part of a basket of measures the government is taking to combat bovine TB. Last year in Wiltshire, 28,000 “cows were slaughtered at a cost of £200m and farmers have been brought to their knees by it.”

Mr Gray said that this has led to farms in the Malmesbury area having to close.

In response to criticism of the cull as inhumane, Mr Gray said: “The killing of 28,000 cows is cruel and barbaric and so is the bankruptcy of farmers.

“There is no question that TB is carried by badgers and there is a very unhealthy badger population.

“I want to see a healthy badger and cow population living in harmony together and the cull is a central part to this.”