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27 September 2017 12:07:16 |Agri Safety and Rural Crime,Animal Health,News,Rural Life,Sheep

Rumours surface showing Gove's preparedness to fast-track lynx re-introduction

Michael Gove has been urged by farmers to appreciate the "substantial and widespread" concerns rural communities have around proposed release

Michael Gove has been urged by farmers to appreciate the "substantial and widespread" concerns rural communities have around proposed release

The sheep industry has reacted with worry after rumours have surfaced that Defra Secretary Michael Gove may be prepared to fast-track a decision on lynx release.
The National Sheep Association (NSA) is calling on representative farming bodies to unite to voice concerns over the proposals.
NSA said it is aware that Lynx UK Trust, the organisation behind lynx re-introduction proposals, is continuing its campaign work while the application is being considered.
But sheep farmers, who are worried re-introducing lynx will negatively impact on sheep farming, have called on Mr Gove to appreciate the "substantial and widespread" concerns rural communities have around the proposed lynx release.
It comes as news that Lynx UK Trust has announced an agreement that will insure the UK's whole sheep population against lynx attacks.
Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, said: “I know Mr Gove is interested in these proposals and I am certain now is the time for individual farmers, land managers and their representative organisations to make their feelings heard.

“I would go as far as urging every farmer who has views over this to write to the Secretary of State so he can appreciate the strength of stakeholder concerns, which go way beyond the losses that will be suffered by sheep farmers.”
A verdict on whether lynx should be released in Kielder Forest, Northumberland, is still pending after Lynx UK Trust submitted a formal application to Natural England earlier this year.
The Government advisory body is currently reviewing information, and is expected to announce a decision in the coming months.
NSA has been gathering industry and local opinion at a series of meetings in recent months, working with the National Farmers Union (NFU) and British Deer Society (BDS) as well as several hundred local stakeholders involved in fields such as farming, tourism, animal welfare, land management and conservation.
Mr Stocker said: “A connected approach, but in an individual capacity, is what is needed if we are to relay the true scale of our concerns. The risks to landscape and wildlife, heavily invested in for years, are real.
“Alongside disease and welfare risks, coupled with concerns around whether any lynx population could be genetically sustainable on our heavily populated island. This of course in addition to the resultant losses and stress on farmers.”

Mr Stocker said a compensation package proposed by the Lynx UK Trust won't put everything right.
“We know from sheep farmers in Finland, Norway and elsewhere that losses go way beyond those predicted. I simply cannot accept that the conscious release of a high-level predator is compatible with the high level of animal welfare expected of British farmers,” he said.
With the proposed release site close to the Scottish border, NSA has been assured that no decision would be made without agreement from relevant Scotland authorities.
Mr Stocker concludes: “There can be no unilateral decision taken on this matter. With concerns in the devolved nations around a ‘power grab’ being brought about by the Great Repeal Bill, it would be unbelievable if the devolved powers of Scotland were challenged in this way”.

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