NPA 'disappointed' at Natural England white-tailed eagle decision
10th May 2021 / By Alistair Driver
The NPA has said it is disappointed with Natural England’s decision to approve an application for the reintroduction of white-tailed eagles on a Norfolk estate.
Following a consultation, the agency has decided to grant a licence to release up to 60 white-tailed eagles over a five-year period on the Ken Hill estate, which is operating an ‘early-stage lowland rewilding project’.
The NPA, along with other farming organisations, had expressed concern about the project that will see the introduction of the apex predator species in one of the most densely-populated pig and poultry production areas in the country.
The agency told the NPA: “Natural England understand your concerns about impacts on livestock businesses but having examined evidence from elsewhere in Europe we have concluded that the risks are low and are manageable.”
Taking on board farming concerns, the agency has decided that the project should last 10 years rather than the five that was originally intended, extending the time in which the project will be required to work with landowners into the period when it is expected that the eagles will begin breeding.
The licensees have undertaken to assist farmers and other rural businesses to manage concerns and resolve problems.
NPA senior policy adviser Charlie Dewhirst said: “We are disappointed that Natural England has given the project the green light without addressing the concerns of NPA members. East Anglia is home to a significant proportion of the UK’s outdoor pig herd and farmers are rightly worried by the potential impact of introducing these large apex predators.
“Despite a number of outstanding concerns, we do welcome the decision to extend the stewardship of the scheme from five to ten years, ensuring that the eagles are monitored once breeding pairs have been established.
“The NPA also welcomes the Ken Hill Estate’s offer to work with us and we will continue to push for further safeguards and guarantees before any birds are released.”
You can view the NPA's consultation response HERE
You can see information about the project HERE
The NFU has also criticised the decision. NFU East Anglia environment adviser Rob Wise said:
“The likely range of these birds is home to around half of the country’s outdoor reared pigs and poultry, and also has a significant amount of sheep grazing.
“Farmers are worried that the sea eagles will prey on livestock including lambs, piglets and free-range poultry.
“Many members are also concerned about the impact sea eagles will have on their conservation efforts.”