Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009

Farmers delay sea eagle release

Stuart Agnew
Stuart Agnew says sea eagles could scare his chickens from laying

Plans to reintroduce sea eagles to Norfolk have been delayed amid fierce criticism from farmers and land owners.

Natural England, one of the groups behind the plans, has revealed that it has extended the public consultation into the proposals.

It had hoped the first birds could be introduced to the county by the summer but has now said it is unlikely to be able to apply for a licence until 2010.

Sea eagles have been blamed for lamb deaths in Scotland.

Andrew Smith, a spokesman for Natural England, said: "We're looking to continue the consultation through 2009.

Farmers' fears

"The original hope was we would have been able to put something through for licence in the spring.

"There is an amount of feeling out there both for and against. We want to make sure we capture all of that and go through it as thoroughly as possible."

He said 2010 would be "the earliest we would be looking to do something".

Land owners and farmers have told of fears of animal losses if the birds are released into Norfolk.

Stuart Agnew, a chicken farmer at West Raynham, said the eagles would upset his birds.

He said: "They (Natural England) have just said to us farmers 'well, if you get a couple of chickens taken by the birds we'll compensate you'."

It may have a place in the British Isles but it's got to have an island to itself where it isn't going to upset farming
Stuart Agnew, chicken farmer

He said sea eagles flying overhead would cause his birds to "produce badly shaped eggs, bad shells or not to produce an egg at all".

He added: "They could all flock up together and run into one of the fences here and smother each other.

"It's a fantastic bird. It may have a place in the British Isles but it's got to have an island to itself where it isn't going to upset farming."

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.

Norfolk's large areas of wetland habitat led to it being chosen as another possible site for reintroduction.

Sea eagle

Sea Eagles can cause major stress to outdoor livestock



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SEE ALSO
Farmers' concern over eagle plans
02 Dec 08 |  Norfolk
Growing call for action on eagles
30 Sep 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Eagles blamed for lamb deaths
24 Sep 08 |  Scotland

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