Plans to bring back white-tailed eagle win support

CONSERVATIONISTS' plans to bring back the magnificent white-tailed eagle to Suffolk have been given a significant boost.

Anthony Bond

CONSERVATIONISTS' plans to bring back the magnificent white-tailed eagle to Suffolk have been given a significant boost.

The Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership voted to support plans by Natural England and the RSPB to reintroduce the eagles to the Suffolk coast.

David Wood, chairman of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Partnership, said: “The white-tailed eagle reintroduction represents an important conservation milestone, and could lead to these magnificent birds once more becoming a regular sight over lowland Britain, an area that was formally part of their natural range.

“If the reintroduction goes ahead, it will be important to ensure that the scheme is cost-effective, both in conservation terms and in the benefits the birds will bring to the local economy.

“We will need to plan carefully to ensure that the tranquil and high-quality landscape of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB is not compromised by increased numbers of visitors.”

Most Read

The Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Partnership said significant criteria had to be met before any birds were released.

More technical information must be gathered about the way the eagles might interact with other wildlife and livestock. There will also be further consultation with stakeholders and local communities to understand the potential challenges and to work with them to develop strategies that will address any concerns.

The partnership also said the support of local people is a critical part of the project because without it, the reintroduction is unlikely to succeed.

A recent poll undertaken of more than 500 members of the public, held across a number of Suffolk locations, showed overwhelming support for the project.

Once the feasibility study has been successfully completed, the project partners will need to decide whether or not to proceed with the reintroduction. A licence will also need to be obtained, should it be decided to go ahead.

White-tailed eagles were formerly widespread across the UK, but their numbers were decimated in England in the mid-19th Century due to persecution and hunting.

They have already been successfully reintroduced in Scotland, where 40 pairs are now established, and conservationists have been assessing the feasibility of reintroducing the birds into lowland England. It is considered that the Suffolk coast offers the best location to reintroduce the species.