Farming organisations have united in calling for urgent reassurance that there will be full studies and consultation on plans to release lynx into Kielder Forest.
The Lynx UK Trust is exploring the possibility of an introduction programme for 10 Eurasion lynx, but has not yet submitted an application to the licencing authorities in England and Scotland – Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage.
Now the NFU in England and NSA in England and Scotland are working together to represent farmers who would bear the brunt of any introduction programme.
They say the concerns not just of farmers, but of others in the rural community, must be taken seriously, and they disagree with the suggestion that consultation work carried out by the trust would meet the legal requirement for an official and independent review.
The groups are seeking assurances that a full, independent impact study will also be carried out.
“A thorough, independent evaluation of any proposals put forward is what farmers in the local area expect,” said NFU regional director Adam Bedford.
“This is an area almost wholly dependent on sheep farming and times are tough. Any unnecessary additional pressure on these fragile businesses is simply unacceptable and the Government must respond accordingly.
“Scottish farmers already have the commitment of their Government to carry out a full consultation in the event of a formal application by Lynx UK. We now need Natural England to follow suit in England.”