A new strategy for eradicating bovine TB in both cattle and wildlife has been delayed again.
Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots told MLAs on Tuesday that it could take another three months before the proposals are finalised.
“We will be moving forward on that strategy soon. We are just waiting on the completion of the business case, and that should be done by early March,” he said.
The minister previously committed to getting the proposals out by last autumn. When that deadline passed, DAERA officials indicated that the plan would be finalised by early January.
However, once the proposals are eventually published, it is now looking like it will take another prolonged period before any significant changes are made to TB policy.
Speaking at Stormont last week, Neil Gartland from DAERA said proposals for a badger cull would take time, as a public consultation is required. After that, new legislation would be necessary, funding secured, and staff trained.
“There are a lot of factors to take into account in advance of whether or not we could decide to go forward with intensive wildlife intervention,” he said.
There is also the risk that wildlife campaigners could further delay a badger cull by launching legal proceedings. It means that it could be years before any wildlife intervention measures are rolled out in NI.