We reject Chris Packham's ideas to rewild Cumbrian fells

Speaking at the Royal Geographical Society, Mr Packham, of BBC Springwatch fame, said excessive livestock turns Britain’s uplands into “green deserts”, and lynx, beaver, boar and other wild species should be introduced in their place.

We believe that the last thing farmers in Cumbria need is their livelihoods threatened, that this proposal is toally unrealistic and will not be welcomed by those who love the fells.

Below are some comments from farmers and their organisations published in the Cumberland news.

Alistair Mackintosh, a west Cumbrian sheep and beef farmer and National Farmers’ Union Cumbrian council delegate, said: “These people have far too much time on their hands. I just do not have the words for these comments from Chris Packham.

“The evidence is clear: you look at other countries that have introduced wolves and lynx and it is costing them a fortune in compensation to sheep farmers when these wild animals eat their lambs.

“It is insane to release lynx into the wild in this country. Once you lose a farmer you lose a food producer. It is no good saying the lynx would be penned. It just couldn’t be policed.”

NFU Cumbria county adviser Jenny Willis added that she was sure that the public would not want to swap beloved breeds of upland sheep like Herdwicks and Swaledales for lynx, which disappeared around the year 700.

“Much of the Cumbrian uplands is farmed by families who have been here for generations,” she said, “and have a strong interest in sustainability to secure their livelihoods and the landscape for the future.”

Meurig Raymond, president of the NFU of England and Wales, rejected Mr Packham’s ideas and said Britain’s uplands needed more sheep, not fewer.

He was backed by Cumbrian MP Tim Farron who argued that “rewilding” the Lakes would hurt the agricultural sector and negatively impact on the environment.

“In places like the Lakes, farmers take their responsibilities as stewards of the unique landscape seriously and work hard to protect it,” he said.

Ennerdale farmer Sam Rawling said a “huge” amount of money had already been poured into rewilding Ennerdale. He said: “They are creating a utopia of their own imagination. They are creating a different type of environment. “I would ask on the question of introducing wild animals, how much would it cost? Lynx would not just eat lambs. They would not differentiate between any of the creatures on the fells.”