Following the Scottish Government announcement in November 2021 of a shift in policy to enable conservation translocations to new release sites in Scotland from July 2022, NatureScot are supporting this policy and are expecting to receive applications for beaver translocations over the coming months. To inform the likely effects of a programme of beaver translocations NatureScot have committed to carrying out an assessment of the environmental effects of beaver releases into new catchments (Environmental Report (ER) under Strategic Environmental Assessment Regs (SEA)). NatureScot also has a statutory duty to assess the potential impacts on Natura sites (Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA)).
Assessments are being carried out at a catchment scale and are not specific to beaver release proposals. We are prioritising the assessment of new catchments where we are aware there is existing interest in beaver translocation and in catchments where we have assessed there is the most potential for environmental benefit and a lower risk of conflict.
A comprehensive ER (as required under the SEA Regs) and HRA of Natura sites, was carried out in 2017 and focussed on two detailed zones; Tayside and Knapdale. We produced an Addendum to the 2017 ER in 2022 to provide an update to our knowledge of beavers, their effects, mitigation methods and the policy context. In producing strategic assessments (ERs) for new catchments we are seeking not to replicate much of the existing work, but to highlight what are likely to be the key effects (including cumulative effects) in the local environment in new catchments and explore where the balance is likely to sit in terms of benefits and risks. The ER does not prejudge any specific licence applications and NatureScot are looking to consult on the ERs and complete an HRA for these catchments in advance of issuing any licences for beaver release.
Hence we have produced ERs for two new catchments: the River Beauly (and Beauly coastal) catchment and the River Spey catchment.
NatureScot would like to invite public comment on the ERs and have established a questionnaire to facilitate the submission of comments. Although the consultation questions are the same for both catchments, please ensure your comments relate to the specific catchment/ reports you wish to make comment on.
The documents are available to view as printed versions at NatureScot, Great Glen House, Leachkin Road, Inverness, IV3 8NW. Responses to the consultation using the web form are preferred or can be sent in hard copy to Kieren Jones, Wildlife Management Team, NatureScot, Great Glen House, Leachkin Road, Inverness, IV3 8NW. The consultation period will run from 9 June to 28 July 2023.
Following this consultation period NatureScot will analyse the comments received and make any changes to the ER prior to adoption and the final version will be taken into account in assessing licence applications for the release of beavers in these catchments.
Links to ER Consultation reports and questions
Links to NatureScot web guidance for reference:
- Interim guidance on NatureScot support for and assessment of beaver translocation projects
- Beavers in Scotland - Conservation translocation guidance for applicants, consultees and interested parties
If you already have a licence number, include it in the subject line of your email, or have it to hand when you call.