Local communities surrounding Kielder Forest have teamed up to refute ‘misleading claims’ Lynx UK Trust has permission from all relevant landowners for the reintroduction of lynx.
Farmers, landowners, residents and community groups held a meeting on Tuesday evening (August 21) to collaboratively call on Natural England to ‘thoroughly test all claims made within the licensing application by the Lynx UK Trust’ and it run its own public consultation exercise before any decision was made.
Malcom Corbett, who farms locally to Kielder Forest and who chaired the meeting, said the strength of feeling among farmers and the wider community in Kielder and surrounding areas ‘could clearly be seen’ and the group would ‘continue to work together to ensure our community is heard in this debate’.
He said: “This meeting was not about discussing the damage we are all aware the lynx will bring to our area if released, but to unify the wider community with the farming community and prepare a combined forward plan to combat this proposal.”
Comments from the meeting, which was supported by the National Sheep Association (NSA) and the NFU, said the group ‘utterly deplored’ Lynx UK Trust’s attempt to ‘misinform the public’ through suggestions the Forest’s local community did not care about the environment.
The group said: “We also reject any suggestion that objections only concern potential sheep losses.
“We strongly object to the consequent abuse generated against our farmers by those who have no knowledge of our area and its communities.
“We would stress that ecological restoration projects, many on-going in Kielder itself, have strong local support and are greatly valued. There is also widespread commitment through the high take-up of agri-environment schemes.”
The group said it had serious concerns about the welfare of any released animals into the Forest, suggesting the five-year trial would introduce a population of more than 30 lynx.
They said chief scientific advisor for Lynx UK Trust Dr Paul O’Donoghue conceded at a public meeting in 2017 that a lynx population in Kielder could ‘never be truly wild because it would require constant renewal of its gene pool’.
“The trial would therefore be for a project that can never be achieved without continuing human intervention,” it added.
“This should call into serious question the launch of such a project in the first place.”