NSA has attended a community meeting in the Kielder Forest organised by local residents and farmers in response to recent misleading claims in the press by the Lynx UK Trust, suggesting it has obtained permission from all relevant landowners for the release of lynx. The community in Kielder and surrounding areas has come together to form a united group to refute this claim. There was strong representation from the affected communities, including from residents, community groups, farmers, landowners and other business interests. The group has issued the following statement.
“We utterly deplore the attempt by Lynx Trust UK to misinform the public through the press. In the light of this proven unreliability, we are calling on Natural England to thoroughly test all claims made within the licensing application by the Lynx UK Trust.
“In particular we are challenging the claims made about the public consultation run by the trust in our area and the claimed support. We are calling on Natural England to run its own public consultation exercise within the affected communities before any decision is made.
“We completely refute any suggestion we do not care passionately for our environment. 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.
“We have serious concerns about the welfare of any released animals into this busy, industrial forest. After a five-year trial there could be a population of over 30 lynx.
“Mr O’Donaghue 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. This should call into serious question the launch of such a project in the first place.”