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Call for white-tailed eagle research to be released

PUBLISHED: 11:00 15 December 2009 | UPDATED: 08:59 01 August 2010

David Bale

Coastal farmers and landowners in East Anglia, who manage land in the area where the white-tailed eagle could be released, are calling on Natural England to make public the research work that has been undertaken for the proposed introduction of the bird.

Coastal farmers and landowners in East Anglia, who manage land in the area where the white-tailed eagle could be released, are calling on Natural England to make public the research work that has been undertaken for the proposed introduction of the bird.

They also want to be given details, dates and venues of a consultation with those affected, which was promised in September - and to know how much the introduction would cost.

The calls came at a meeting of concerned land managers at the Benacre Estate on the Norfolk/Suffolk border yesterday.

Robert Middleditch, one of the farmers present, said: “When the reintroduction was announced in September Natural England (the government's advisor on the countryside) stated it would be going out to consultation with all those affected.

“We are still awaiting details of this 'consultation', how it will be organised and how we can take part.

“Similarly, despite repeated requests, we have been given no sight of the extensive research project into the impact on wildlife which Natural England says it has carried out. Who knows what the effect could be of an enormous bird flying overhead?”

The eagles, which have an eight foot wingspan and feed on fish, birds and medium-sized mammals, were formerly widespread across the UK and have already been successfully reintroduced in Scotland.

However, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has been highly sceptical about the reintroduction and has questioned how farming, shooting and other commercial interests will manage with the introduction of such a major predator.

Earlier this month, the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership voted to support plans by Natural England and RSPB to reintroduce the birds, in line with local public opinion, which shows overwhelming support for the project in recent polls.

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