Northumberland nature reserve community at odds over application to import six of the mammals from Sweden
Friday 3 February 2017 18.12 GMT Last modified on Friday 3 February 2017 22.00 GMT
It is the idyllic nature reserve where walkers roam among roe deer and red squirrel while star-gazers enjoy the biggest expanse of dark sky in the whole of Europe.
But there’s a blot on the horizon over Kielder Forest, in Northumberland, thanks to highly contentious plans to reintroduce the Eurasian lynx.
The move has caused a bitter divide in the picturesque hills bordering Scotland. Campaigners say the wild mammal, which was last seen across Britain in 700AD, would reinvigorate the biggest forested area in Britain and control its sizeable herbivore population.
The idea has, however, caused a deep split in the rural community. There are fears among farmers that the six lynxes, which will be imported from Sweden, will kill their sheep and attack deer.
An application is due to be submitted to Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage in a matter of weeks. If approved, the Lynx UK trust, the charity behind the proposals, hope that the animals could be introduced into the wild as early as next year.
The local MP, Guy Opperman, is also locked in a heated dispute with the charity, which he accused of behaving in a “confrontational and high-handed” way.
“The way in which this organisation have conducted their ‘consultation’ has been an object lesson in how not to consult and how to wind up local communities,” Opperman said on Friday.