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Farmers warn Exmoor will turn into a 'rich boys' playground'

Farmers warn Exmoor will turn into a ‘rich boys’ playground’ after plans were unveiled to rewild 10 per cent of the national park to be ‘recolonised’ by beavers and pine martens

  • Exmoor National Park Authority released plans this week to leave parts to nature 
  • But farmers fear they will lose too much farming land for their grazing animals  
  • One Exmoor farmer has said farmers had not been properly consulted over plans

Farmers have warned that Exmoor will turn into a ‘rich boys’ playground’ after plans were unveiled to rewild 10 per cent of the national park.

Exmoor National Park Authority released plans this week that would see a small section of the area left to nature so that beavers and pine martens can ‘recolonise’.

But farmers fear they are being sidelined and have become worried after seeing before-and-after illustrations of the plans which showed sheep’s grazing land given over to woodland and restored grassland. 

Oliver Edwards, an Exmoor sheep and cattle farmer, said farmers had not been properly consulted over the plans that would lead to less livestock grazing.

Farmers have warned that Exmoor will turn into a ‘rich boy’s playground’ after plans were unveiled to rewild 10 per cent of the national park (pictured: the vision set out for Exmoor national park)

He told The Telegraph: ‘They shouldn’t alienate us, it’s very easy to form a rift between the national park and farmers.

‘We’re all in this together, but some of us are in it a lot deeper, with our families and livelihoods. We don’t want it to turn into a rich boys’ playground.’

It comes amid reports that Boris Johnson recently gifted his father Stanley some beavers to release onto his own Exmoor estate to mark his 80th birthday.

Exmoor National Park Authority released plans this week that would see a small section of the area left to nature so that beavers and pine martens can ‘recolonise’ (pictured is how the park looks today)

Farmers were shown the plans after they were formulated with the input from environmental groups.   

The ENPA plans to reverse the decline of animals such as red squirrels, curlew, and butterflies that are now extinct on the moors.   

Farmer Joe Stanley said the plans for Exmoor could lead to more food imports from countries such as Brazil, where agriculture is fuelling deforestation.

He added that even though intensive agricultural farming had had a negative impact on the environment, we could end up in a situation that swings too far the other way.  

He told the publication: ‘The entire farmed landscape is up for grabs as far as the rewilding movement is concerned.

‘Natural England and Defra are very much falling in to the trap that food production is something we no longer need.’

The idea of rewilding – which means reducing human input on the land and reintroducing species – has become more popular in recent years.   

The idea of rewilding – which means reducing human input on the land and reintroducing species – has become more popular in the in recent years. Pictured is part of the ‘nature recovery opportunities’ planning

It comes amid reports that Boris Johnson recently gifted his father Stanley (pictured) some beavers to release onto his own Exmoor estate to mark his 80th birthday 

However many farmers are also worried about losing EU direct subsidy payments from next year after Brexit. 

Mr Goldsmith, a Defra non-executive board member, said in regards to the Exmoor plans that nobody is ‘suggesting that farming ends in our national parks’ and that farmers will play a role in restoring nature.  

Ali Hawkins, ENPA’s conservation officer, said farmers were ‘fundamentally at the heart’ of delivering the plan.

She added: ‘It’s very easy to form a rift between the national park and farmers. We’re all in this together but some of us are in it a lot deeper.’

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