York farmer warns that beaver reintroductions must be carefully licensed to reduce impact on food production

The beaver family in Cropton Forest in the North York MoorsThe beaver family in Cropton Forest in the North York Moors
The beaver family in Cropton Forest in the North York Moors
The impact reintroducing beavers could have on a farmer’s ability to produce food must be taken into account before licences are issued, the NFU has warned.

Following the opening of a Government consultation on plans to release beavers into the wild under licence in England and give them protected status, York farmer and NFU environment forum chair Richard Bramley said licence approval must be well thought out.

“It is positive that any reintroduction will be strictly licensed by Natural England and it is important any approved licensing includes a long-term management plan, developed with local farmers and backed with adequate funding.

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“British farmers and growers are experts at making the most of their natural environment to produce climate-friendly food. Any impact on a farmer’s ability to produce food needs to be included as part of a full impact assessment carried out before any licence is issued.”

Mr Bramley added that it was important to remember there could be negative impacts to beaver reintroductions such as potentially undermining riverbanks, damaging trees, impeding farmland drainage and causing low-lying fields to flood.

“We are committed to working with Natural England and interested parties to deliver the best outcomes,” he said. “But where there is a financial impact on a farm business, adequate compensation must be made and an exit strategy must be in place should major issues occur.”

Announcing the 12-week consultation Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said it marked a “significant milestone”.

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“We are committed to providing opportunities to reintroduce formerly native species, such as beavers, where the benefits for the environment, people and the economy are clear.” But, he added, the Government also understood the reintroduction would have “implications” for landowners

“We are taking a cautious approach to ensure that all potential impacts are carefully considered.”

Chair of Natural England, Tony Juniper, urged people to take part in the consultation.

“I encourage everyone to respond, so that the way we shape the future of wild beavers reflects as many perspectives as possible,” he said.

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A beaver family now live in a special enclosure in Cropton Forest, near Pickering, after two adults were relocated from a Scottish project for a Forestry England trial to assess natural flood management in 2019. There are no other beavers living wild in Yorkshire.