Three people have been arrested in north Pembrokeshire today (Tuesday) in connection with the badger cull.

Police confirmed that two men have been arrested under articles five and six of the Tuberculosis Eradication (Wales) order 2009.

The act states that an authorised Welsh Assembly Government officer may enter any premises, apart from a domestic dwelling, to treat badgers and that the occupier of the land must comply.

Article six states that it is an offence to obstruct or interfere with anything being done or used in connection with the treatment or destruction of badgers.

Police said a third man has been arrested for theft.

An eyewitness in north Pembrokeshire said that men, masked to hide their identities, accompanied by police, had visited farms and small holdings in the area.

A Welsh Assembly spokesman confirmed that these visits were for preparatory sett survey work.

“We will do all we can to keep our communities safe and maintain the confidence in Dyfed-Powys Police of people living, working and visiting the area,” said a police spokesman.

“Dyfed-Powys Police officers are there to keep the peace and maintain law and order.

“This includes allowing the Welsh Assembly Government to carry out their lawful duties as part of their TB eradication programme for Wales.”

The spokesman conceded that people have the right to peacefully protest at locations where it is safe and when it is lawful and proportionate and in connection with a legitimate aim.

However she said Dyfed-Powys Police aims to prevent crime and disorder, and provides a proportionate, effective and timely response when it occurs.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said:

"Our main aim is to lawfully carry out this work to identify where badger setts are in the area. Bovine TB is a crisis we have to deal with and we need to co-ordinate activity effectively."

"It has been made clear from the outset that the identity of contractors would not be put in the public domain. Clearly today the contractors tried to protect their identity because of their concern about the situation and level of personal intimidation. They felt that that their identity was not being respected by the media and individuals.

"In the last six years, 42% of cattle farms in the area have had bovine TB. We are serious about getting rid of bovine TB from the area and the activity needs to be planned and co-ordinated, which includes surveying all the land in the area for evidence of badger activity.

"Over 95% of the land has already been surveyed. The High Court has decided that the TB Eradication Order, which was challenged by the Badger Trust in Court, is lawful. The Welsh Assembly Government has the legal powers to access land to implement our badger control strategy.

"A very small minority of land owners are continuing to refuse access to the land. We have continued to engage with them including meeting some of the individuals concerned. We are very disappointed that a tiny minority have decided to engage in illegal activity."