The government has won a Commons debate on the badger cull.

The culling of badgers in two pilot areas can go ahead after the government won a Commons vote this afternoon by a majority of 49.

The Labour Party had brought an opposition motion against the cull, which is designed to stop TB being spread to cattle by badgers. However, the government won the debate by 299 to 250.

Licences for culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire came into force on 1 June, with culling expected to begin in the summer. Around 5,000 animals are likely to be killed by trained marksmen.

However, critics of the measure say there is no scientific evidence that a cull would reduce cases of bovine TB.

A report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) committee published today said the government was right to look into the option of vaccinating animals against bovine TB, but warned that vaccination was “no magic bullet”.