Major landowners have approved access for lynx in Northumberland, as part of the planned Lynx UK Trust trial reintroduction.
Natural England and Environment Secretary Michael Gove are continuing to consider the Lynx UK Trust licence application for a trial reintroduction of Eurasian lynx to Kielder Forest.
However, while this is going on, major local landowners covering 700km2 of potential lynx habitat in the Kielder region have now approved access for the rewilding project, to return six lynx to the area for a five-year trial reintroduction.
If the trial was successful, it could lead to a wider reintroduction of the lynx in other parts of the UK, such as the Scottish Highlands.
Advocates expect the lynx would bring a range of benefits, helping to control and reduce the UK’s over-populated deer numbers, reducing damage to forests and improving habitat for smaller animals.
Expert analysis has also estimated a potential tourism value of tens of millions of pounds for the local rural economy, based on similar reintroduction projects in Europe.
Chief scientific advisor for the Lynx UK Trust, Dr Paul O’Donoghue, said: “I think this speaks volumes for the confidence in the trial reintroduction plan we’ve laid out. Literally every landowner we have approached has given permission.”
Lynx have been successfully reintroduced in countries across Europe. They have proven themselves to be of no threat to humans and that they present a very limited threat to sheep farmers.
Lynx UK Trust has already arranged insurance for every sheep in the UK against lynx attacks, backed by Lloyds Syndicate ARK Speciality Programs, a division of Lloyds of London headed up by Richard Bryant.