A judge has rejected a legal challenge to the assembly government’s decision to cull badgers in part of south west Wales.
Animal charity the Badger Trust applied to the High Court for a judicial review of the planned cull, which aims to combat bovine TB infection.
The cull area would cover north Pembrokeshire, and a small part of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.
Justice Lloyd Jones said the assembly government’s order was lawful.
The cull is expected to take place over the next few months.
The assembly government said compensating farmers cost the taxpayer nearly £24m last year and cattle and badgers were the main sources of the disease.
Reacting to Friday’s ruling Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones said: “We welcome the court’s decision.
“Bovine TB is one of the biggest problems facing cattle farmers across Wales, and we have to tackle all sources of the disease.
“ I believe all this will be seen in a few years time for what it is . . . a tragic wrong turn which did nothing to solve the problem of TB in cattle ”
“We are dealing with an epidemic that has serious consequences for us all and we must stamp it out.
“Over the past three years, with advice from experts, we have put in place a comprehensive programme to eradicate TB across Wales.
“We need to read and digest this verdict. In the meantime, we will continue with the preparations in the pilot area.”
Opponents said it was not proved that a cull of badgers would significantly contribute to the eradication of bovine TB.
Rock star Brian May was among protesters who backed the animal charity’s opposition and spoke out publicly against the plan.
After the ruling, he warned the battle to overturn the TB Eradication Order (Wales) 2009 will continue.
“This is a disappointment, of course. But not just for thousands of innocent badgers,” he said.
“The decision to cull cannot lead to any significant long-term gain in the fight against bovine TB, even with the complete extermination of our native badgers.”
He added: “I believe all this will be seen in a few years time for what it is . . . a tragic wrong turn which did nothing to solve the problem of TB in cattle.
“For the sake of all involved, we will not be giving up the fight for what is right. We are taking advice on appealing at a higher level.”
Justice Lloyd Jones heard two days of submissions during a hearing in Swansea last month.