CAMPAIGNERS are set to make a formal bid to reintroduce the lynx to the British countryside in a move that has provoked serious concerns among Scottish farmers and crofters.

Lynx UK Trust has applied to Natural England for permission to carry out a trial reintroduction of six Eurasian lynx to the Kielder Forest in Northumberland, just across the Border. The trust says the application is the first of its kind and would bring back a species that hasn’t lived wild in Britain for more than 1000 years.

While any release would take place in England, the trust admits the animals might cross into Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage is being kept fully informed. The trust announced last year that it was exploring the possibility of bringing back the lynx. Experts have spent the last year planning the reintroduction, studying potential release sites and holding consultations.

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The project’s chief scientific adviser, Dr Paul O’Donoghue, said there could be economic benefits to the area, suggesting it could be known as “the kingdom of the lynx”.

Scotland’s Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham pledged last year that nothing would happen without full consultation, saying farmers and crofters had “serious concerns” about the Kielder Forest proposals.