Plans to reintroduce lynx into the North East

A Eurasian lynx. Picture by Erwin van Maanen
A Eurasian lynx. Picture by Erwin van Maanen

Plans to reintroduce lynx into a North East forest will not go ahead without "full consultation", a senior politician has pledged.

Farmers and crofters have "serious concerns" about proposals by the Lynx UK Trust to reintroduce the creatures to a site in the Kielder Forest, which covers parts of Northumberland, Cumbria, the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

The trust recently announced it was the preferred site for a trial project returning the creatures to the wild, saying there was a greater amount of woodland and less farmland, as well as fewer roads, railways and rivers than other locations it had considered.

Returning lynx to Kielder Forest would also pose less risk to other protected species and has greater scope to boost the local economy, including through the potential for wildlife tourism, according to the trust.

It said: "We intend to apply for a licence in 2016 to trial the reintroduction of lynx to the wild for a period of five years; recognising that this is a significant step for both conservation and ecological science in the UK, we are currently carrying out a detailed and pro-active stakeholder consultation."

The Lynx UK Trust plans to hold a question-and-answer session about its plans in the Kielder area on Thursday August 11.

Roseanna Cunningham, Scotland's Environment Secretary has pledged, said the plans would not go ahead without a full consultation.

Ms Cunningham said: "No licence application to release lynx in Scotland has been received.

"Protecting and enhancing Scotland's biodiversity is a priority.

"We know that farmers and crofters have serious concerns about proposals to release lynxand we would not consider reintroducing any such species without full consultation with all those likely to be affected."