Government rejects Northumberland lynx reintroduction

Plans to reintroduce lynx into a forest in Northumberland have been scrapped by Defra.

The Lynx UK Trust had put forward plans to release six of the animals into Kielder Forest as part of a five-year trial.

Some landowners had agreed to the scheme, however, several farmers said they were concerned the animals would attack their livestock.

Natural England was asked to provide advice to Defra on the application and to undertake a full assessment of this, including how the proposals met international guidelines for reintroductions and translocations.

Ultimately, the decision was taken to reject the proposals on the basis that the project relied heavily on volunteers with no clear funding as well as a “lack of local buy-in”.

NFU senior countryside adviser Claire Robinson said: “The Government’s decision to reject the application from the Lynx UK Trust to reintroduce lynx into the Kielder Forest will come as an enormous relief to the farmers in the area.

“The NFU’s opposition has always been underpinned by our concerns about the impact lynx could have on the welfare of livestock.

The Secretary of State himself notes that the application had failed to demonstrate ‘local buy-in’ and Natural England’s evidence says that the NFU’s concerns were not addressed.

“The NFU will continue to monitor this specific case and respond accordingly to any developments.”

‘A great relief’

NFU Scotland environment and land use policy manager Andrew Midgley said: “The decision not to release Lynx into Kielder Forest will come as a great relief to our members in the Borders – particularly sheep farmers, who had serious concerns over the health and safety of their livestock had these plans been given the green light.

It is clear from the Secretary of State’s letter that there was insufficient, if any, engagement with farmers, landowners and the wider community and that the concerns of farmers were not meaningfully addressed.

“This project was therefore flawed from the beginning and NFU Scotland is delighted it will not be going ahead.”