Government launches consultation on the future of beavers in England

Estates Director John Varley and Head of Wildlife and Conservation Dr Sam Bridgewater welcomed Natural England Chair Tony Juniper to the Estate as he launched the government’s consultation on the reintroduction of beavers in England.

The 12 week consultation, which launches on Wednesday 25th August, is seeking people’s views on the ‘cautious’ release and management of beavers into the wild. Plans have also been announced to give beavers legal protection as a native species in England, to support their recovery.

Under the Government’s proposals, applications for licences to release beavers into the wild would need to meet certain criteria, including demonstrating positive stakeholder engagement and local buy in, and proof that a comprehensive assessment has been undertaken of the impacts on surrounding land, the water environment, infrastructures, habitats, and protected species. Projects must also ensure that support for landowners and rivers users is put in place.

Estates Director John Varley talks with Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, Harry Barton and colleague from Devon Wildlife Trust at the launch of the national consultation on the reintroduction of beavers in England.

John Varley said: “Clinton Devon Estates supported the River Otter Beaver Trial from the beginning because we wanted to understand the full impact of beavers in a real-world setting.

“We have seen at first-hand how beavers in the right place can bring about major benefits for wildlife, the environment and society, such as increased biodiversity and natural flood management. However, we have also witnessed negative impacts when beavers are in the wrong place: farmers’ fields, private property and roads flooded, as well as trees damaged.   

“There are two key things that are pertinent to the wider-scale reintroduction of beavers. The first is having a pragmatic and responsive management policy which has the confidence of land managers and the public.  The second is having the resources to implement it.  With these two elements in place the trial has shown that land-based businesses can co-exist alongside the beaver.

“We welcome Defra’s nationwide consultation into the future of this very large and enterprising rodent.”

Chair of Natural England, Tony Juniper, said: “The launch of Defra’s consultation today marks an important and positive moment for the future of these wonderful animals in England. Beavers are not only fascinating creatures in their own right, but are also ecosystem engineers that will play a key role in restoring and linking habitats, in the process bringing many environmental benefits, like we have seen in the highly successful River Otter trial in Devon –hugely positive transformations, including the creation of wetland habitat, improving water quality and smoothing flood peaks.

“I encourage everyone to respond, so that the way we shape the future of wild Beavers reflects as many perspectives as possible”. 

The 12-week consultation is seeking views on:

  • Potential future releases into the wild
  • Current and future releases into enclosures
  • Mitigation and management of beaver activity or impacts in the wild, including the River Otter population and all other existing wild living beaver populations.

Secretary of State George Eustice said:  “We are committed to providing opportunities to reintroduce formerly native species, such as beavers, where the benefits for the environment, people and the economy are clear. Today marks a significant milestone for the reintroduction of beavers in the wild, with the launch of the Government’s consultation on our national approach and management of beavers in England.

 “But we also understand that there are implications for landowners, so we are taking a cautious approach to ensure that all potential impacts are carefully considered.”

Find out more about the consultation here: