Page last updated at 16:09 GMT, Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Farmers' concern over eagle plans

Sea eagle
The sea eagle is the UK's largest bird of prey

A group which represents farmers and land owners has called for national talks about a proposal to reintroduce sea eagles to Norfolk.

The County Land and Business Association (CLA) is concerned about the impact on livestock and existing conservation projects.

Natural England, one of the groups behind the plans, wants to reintroduce the birds to the county by next summer.

Sea eagles reintroduced to Scotland have been blamed for lamb deaths.

The CLA has written to Natural England explaining its concerns about the way decisions about the reintroduction are being taken.

Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, the association's president, said discussions needed to be held at a national level "before any decision on whether sea eagles should be introduced is taken".

Members 'worried'

He said: "There have been many reported cases of sea eagles taking young lambs in Scotland where they have been introduced.

"Our letter to Natural England asks them to explain how they would manage the situation and compensate livestock owners."

Mr Aubrey-Fletcher said the association's members were also worried about the impact on fisheries, shooting and tourism.

Natural England said consultation was already under way with stakeholders about the reintroduction plans.

A Natural England spokesman said: "We are consulting with a wide range of sectors from farmers, conservationists, land managers, wildfowlers, local businesses, tourism authorities and local people."

Sea eagles, also known as the white-tailed eagle, were driven out of England more than 200 years ago and disappeared from the UK by 1918.

The birds were brought back to west Scotland in 1975.

Nofolk was chosen as the best place in England for their reintroduction because it has large areas of wetland habitat.

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