Badger culls in Gloucestershire will go ahead this summer.
Two pilot badger culls to tackle the spread of bovine TB will begin in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset, the Government's environment secretary Owen Paterson confirmed today.
The culls will begin at any point from June 1 and will last for six weeks, being repeated annually for four years.
The cull will be carried out through free shooting.
Independent assessors will check to see if enough badgers are being removed and whether the removal is humane.
Speaking at the National Farmers Union (NFU) annual conference, Mr Paterson announced that authorisation letters have been issued by Natural England confirming the culls can proceed this summer.
He also warned that if for some reason one of the two pilots don't happen because of an unforseen circumstance, he will launch another cull in Dorset instead.
He said: "Bovine TB is spreading at an alarming rate and causing real devastation to our beef and dairy industry. The authorisation letters issued today confirming culling can proceed this summer in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset is an important step towards taking the action we need to tackle the spread of this disease in wildlife.
"I am determined that there are no further delays this year. That is why we have taken the sensible step with the farming industry to elect a reserve area that can be called upon should anything happen to prevent culling in Somerset or Gloucester.
"These pilot culls are just one part of our approach to control and eradicate this dreadful disease. We are using everything at our disposal to get to grips with TB including new tougher controls on moving cattle, increased herd testing and working to get effective vaccines ready as soon as possible."