New intensive badger culls will not be licensed from 2022, in a strategy that the NFU says goes against the science.

The government will also shorten and restrict supplementary cull licences in its updated bovine TB (bTB) strategy.

The NFU has hailed the decision as "irresponsible", saying that the alternatives such as badger and cattle vaccinations are untested and unproven.

The union says that the new measures go against science and evidence, which show that badger culling is in fact effective in controlling the spread of bTB.

NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts said: “This decision clearly ignores the government’s own peer-reviewed evidence in the Downs report that showed badger culling in Gloucestershire reduced bTB incidents by 66 per cent.

"It also ignores its own evidence in its consultation which showed the current strategy, which includes badger controls, delivered reductions in TB incidents in cull areas by 51 per cent after four years.

“This disease continues to have a devastating impact on farming families across the country, causing them huge emotional, mental and financial strain.

“Many farming families have struggled with bTB for a very long time. In recent years, they have started to see some light at the end of a very dark tunnel but today’s announcement will drive a coach and horses through this positive hope.

“It is incredibly disappointing and frustrating that the government is pressing ahead with its proposals to abandon badger culling, a hugely successful element of the strategy.

"The government should be making decisions based on the science and evidence, which clearly shows that badger culling is effective in controlling the spread of this disease.

“Every farmer wants to make this strategy a success and ensure it delivers a TB-free England.

"However, the pursuit of unproven and untested methods, such as badger and cattle vaccinations, is irresponsible and could lead to the further spread of this disease at a time when the current strategy is making inroads in tackling it.

“Throughout this process we have championed policy based on robust data that demonstrates success, not arbitrary dates.

"It’s apparent from this decision the government have abandoned making policy based on science and evidence.

"This in itself is a very worrying direction of travel.

“I want to be very clear – this decision will potentially have far-reaching and severe impacts for cattle farmers across the country.”