Opposition against mooted plans to release lynx in the district have been backed by a farming organisation and Hexham’s MP.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) said it is concerned to hear of the Lynx Trust’s plans, which The Times has reported could return.

“This news has already raised anxiety levels with sheep farmers in the area as they consider the threat to the welfare of animals in their care,” said Eddie Eastham, NSA UK policy and technical chairman. “When the last application failed it was understood that permission could not be granted without governmental support from both sides of the border.”

Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman said he would oppose a second application after the previous proposal was “comprehensively rejected” by the Government in 2018.

He said: “When I spoke with local people and the farming community during the previous process there was no appetite for it and I sense there is no wish to reopen this issue. I would urge the Lynx Trust not to submit a further application.”

Mr Eastham added: “It is concerning that Natural England’s new chairman Tony Juniper is reported to be in favour of the release. Natural England give the Government advice on these issues but do not have the power to make the final decision. At at a time when farmers are being encouraged to improve habitats for wildlife, a proposed release of this kind could easily serve as a disincentive to be involved in conservation.”