NSA rejects procedures behind Lynx UK Trust release licence application

18th July 2017

With Lynx UK Trust having submitted a formal application to Natural England for a release licence for lynx into Kielder Forest, Northumberland, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is continuing to raise serious concerns around processes and proposals adopted by the body.

Responding to the announcement, NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “NSA has been strongly opposed to what Lynx UK Trust is calling a pilot release since its inception, with serious concerns around the way the organisation conducted its consultation process to questions around whether current law would even allow such a release to take place.

“Clearly NSA is opposed to lynx because of the predatory threat the species pose to sheep, but our argument is far more wide reaching than that. The subjects of food security within an uncertain climate, protected species status and land use balance are subjects that need fully debating and pulling together. Any piecemeal sanctioning of small projects which are part of a much wider debate that has not yet been properly conducted would be irresponsible and inexcusable. It is almost inconceivable that once released the lynx would ever be removed and therefore we don't accept this is a pilot project, it is a release.”

NSA has voiced its concerns to Lynx UK Trust, Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage with Kielder Forest falling on both sides of the border. It will continue to oppose the proposals, particularly as NSA does not feel Lynx UK Trust’s consultation process is a true representation of residents and businesses in the Kielder area.   

Phil continues: “The consultation process adopted by Lynx UK Trust appears flawed and misleading. NSA is led to believe stakeholders have been given less than adequate opportunity to have their say, as in NSAs view the group has made inconsistent and selective efforts to publicise meetings. In my mind if lynx were to be released in Kielder, the opinions of people living and earning from that area should carry far greater weight than those of someone living 300 miles away. It is the local people that are the real stakeholders.

“This country is a very different place to what it was 1,300 years ago and NSA does not believe we have enough largescale, suitable habitat to support the minimum population of 250 lynx that is needed for true genetic sustainability. Animal welfare and disease biosecurity, as well as unconsidered changes in ecology if we were to see pastoral farming decline, also present huge problems. We stand to lose the beauty of an area like Kielder if farming, grazing and human activity cannot continue as it has done for centuries in this area.”