National Farmers' Union (NFU) environment forum chairman Richard Bramley has said that the NFU is committed to working with Natural England to reintroduce the beaver to the UK.

He said: “British farmers and growers are experts at making the most of their natural environment to produce climate-friendly food.

“It is positive that any reintroduction will be strictly licensed by Natural England and it is important any approved licensing includes a long-term management plan, developed with local farmers and backed with adequate funding.

Any impact on a farmer’s ability to produce food needs to be included as part of a full impact assessment carried out before any licence is issued.

“We must remember that beaver reintroductions can have negative impacts; potentially undermining riverbanks, damaging trees, impeding farmland drainage and causing low-lying fields to flood.

"Where there is a financial impact on a farm business, adequate compensation must be made and an exit strategy must be in place should major issues occur.

“We are committed to working with Natural England and interested parties to deliver the best outcomes.”

The consultation follows a successful reintroduction in Devon – the River Otter beavers reintroduction trial – which over five-years brought a wealth of benefits to the local area and ecology, including enhancing the environment at a local wildlife site, creating wetland habitat, and reducing flood risk for housing downstream.

The 12-week consultation is seeking views on:

  • Potential future releases into the wild;
  • Current and future releases into enclosures;
  • Mitigation and management of beaver activity or impacts in the wild, including the River Otter population and all other existing wild living beaver populations.

Plans to give beavers legal protection in England are also being announced today, to support their recovery.