THE return of beavers to the Cairngorms National Park, after an absence of 400 years, is still causing controversy, as time ticks down for local people to share their views on the matter.

The Cairngorms National Park Authority is leading on the reintroduction proposals and is urging anyone with an interest to go online and complete this survey before the closure of the formal engagement process on September 25.

Working with a range of partners, the Park Authority is aiming to release beavers on the upper Spey catchment at Rothiemurchus, RSPB Insh Marshes, and on land owned by Wildland Scotland Ltd – but beavers cannot be captured, transported, or released in Scotland without a licence issued by NatureScot.

However, NFU Scotland holds concerns about the licensed movement of the beavers.

NFUS regional manager for the Highlands, Ian Wilson explained: "NFUS don't think that these trans-relocations of beavers should be taking place. They should be moving naturally.

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The current mitigation scheme and funding available are not sufficient to limit the potential damage to land and farm businesses that could come from the beavers – there is no compensation for any negative impacts.

"Without a fully funded mitigation measure and compensation for damage, they shouldn't be being moved."

As part of the licence application, officers at the Cairngorms National Park Authority need to collect and consider the thoughts and opinions of landowners, land managers, local residents, and local communities. The six-week consultation, which began on August 14, has included five public events as well as the opportunity to comment online.

Mr Wilson continued: "Translocation is now being allowed by the Scottish Government and the Cairngorms National Park must be given credit for the level at which they are consulting those affected, and addressing any potential issues when they are being pointed out to them. The Park is openly having discussions with farmers and landowners in the most affected areas to see how measures can be best implemented at the negatively impacted businesses.

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"They appear to be trying to be as reasonable as possible with the trans-licences, but that doesn't change the funding situation."

"Another issue we have is that we are getting strong concerns from members further down the Spey, outwith the National Park, who are worried that they won't have the same support as those within the Park boundaries," he explained.

"The nature of land types, and what we have seen previously on the Tay is that bigger issues will come as the beavers move towards the coast."

READ MORE: Scottish beaver population could hit 10,000 by 2030

Beaver project manager with the Park Authority, Jonathan Willet, said: “We have been speaking with a very wide variety of interested parties and have had specific meetings and events for farmers, crofters, land managers, and residents, with more to come in the future. It is very important that any opinions and views are shared with us so I would encourage people to not miss the deadline. This is a highly significant moment for the Cairngorms National Park, with plans to return a lost species after 400 years.”

For more information or to make your views known, please go here: