CAMPAIGNERS against the controversial badger cull in West Somerset are to fight on despite a legal challenge to the government's plans being thrown out in the High Court.

Queen guitarist Brian May is one of those heading the campaign and will speak at a public meeting organised by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) and other groups in Taunton tomorrow (July 20).

The animal rights charity has also launched a petition which it hopes will gain a million signatures as part of its efforts to garner sufficient public support to lobby the government.

Earlier this year, Defra outlined its plans to carry out a cull in two pilot areas - West Somerset and West Gloucestershire - in a bid to combat the spread of bovine TB.

The proposals have been met with opposition from various groups and individuals, including the Badger Trust which tried to block the cull in the recent judicial review.

Pauline Kidner, founder of Highbridge rescue centre Secret World, will also speak on Friday.

She said: “Although the Badger Trust lost the judicial review, it was on a point of law rather than based on science.

“We know that culling badgers makes the situation worse and shooting free-running badgers is ludicrous - if these bullets miss their targets, they can travel for two to three miles. I really can't understand the thinking behind it.

“I am hoping to give people common-sense arguments at the meeting and will stress that any campaign has to be done peacefully.”

Issues have been raised with regards to the safety of farmers involved in the cull and the police say they are aware of concerns.

Andrew Butler, acting regional director of the NFU in the South-West, said: “We are pleased that the judge has ruled that the proper processes have been followed and that Defra's approach is lawful.

“This policy is desperately needed to tackle what is a terrible and damaging disease that affects cattle and badgers and brings misery to the lives of many hard-working farming families.

“Our end goal is for a healthy countryside and that needs healthy badgers and healthy cattle. This policy, and these pilots, will help to deliver that.”

High Court judge Mr Justice Ouseley who heard the case left the option of a written appeal open to the Badger Trust and it has until today to decide whether or not to proceed with that.

If they don't, the cull is likely to go ahead in early autumn.

The LACS-organised public meeting will take place in the Brewhouse Theatre between 6.30pm and 8.30pm; for more information, visit