Wednesday, 28 November 2007


SNH has reluctantly revealed that it squandered £83,000 of public money (excluding staff wages) in its foolhardy attempt to introduce beaver into North Knapdale, Argyll.

By anyone’s standards this is an obscene amount of money to spend on a self-aggrandising ego-trip. Not content with that, they were to supplement it buy a further half a million pounds if granted a licence. There are many conservation projects that could have benefited from an injection of eighty three thousand pounds. One wonders if there should not be tighter controls placed upon the activities of SNH, perhaps a monitoring committee of MSPs, because patently the Minister for the Environment has no control over them.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Contact from SWT

The Voices of Reason recently received an email from SWT regarding the article "DAMn BUSTING NEWS Cairnbaan Floods Again". This has been SWT's only contact or comment on or about this Blogspot.

Dear Mr Slan
RE: Content of
I would be grateful if you could remove the following item from the above site as soon as possible:
"DAM'n BUSTING NEWS" Cairnbaan Floods again
As you elude this is completely untrue and therefore it is misleading to publish such a report in which referring to SWT and RZSS could be construed as defamation.
I look forward to receiving confirmation of this alteration.
Clara Govier
Communications Manager

We replied:
Thank you for your curiously worded E mail. May we say how delighted we are that you have read the blog. It is often a surprise to some people to realise that it is possible to have an equally valid opposing point of view. It is a pity that you have chosen not to address any of the issues and concerns expressed on the blog. It does your organisation little credit. We note your concern and would be grateful if you could be more specific, so that we can run it by our advisors. Thank you Voice Of Reason

We haven't had a reply yet.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

A Plea for Moderation

Comment posted on the Autumn Watch comment site

May I ask that you think very, very carefully before so thoroughly approving of, and endorsing the return of beaver to the wild in Britain, especially without showing both sides of the story with regard to this animal?
There are proposed trial areas in the North Knapdale area of Mid Argyll. Many locals believe that this will adversely affect the existing delicate eco system and unique habitat for which this area is renowned.
As well known 'wildlife celebrities' I feel that you might perhaps broadcast a balanced view and point out that they are not just cute & cuddly, tummy scratching mammals.
We have serious concerns, fears and feel real anguish at the thought of the devastation that could be wreaked on Knapdales beautiful countryside, the untold and irreversible damage these creatures could cause.
The beaver diary mentions that “they have a natural instinct to control water levels and block leaks” one of the proposed release sites is the feeder reservoir lochan for the Crinan Canal, there are serious concerns that this will cause flooding to local properties. Also a reference to the damage they do to surrounding woodlands “busy felling another tree in the night”. Once they have felled the trees within in 50meters of their existing lodge they move on to another area and do the same wanton destruction again. This has a major impact on existing habitats, habitat that has never seen beaver and will never see rare water lilies, dragon flies, and many, many other species of flora and fauna, rare & common again.
Contact us via this blogspot: or by emailing There is a lot of well researched information about Beavers on this site.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my concerns.

Letter to Bill Oddie & Kate Humble of Autumn Watch

Dear Bill & Kate, Nov. 6th 2007

May we ask that you think carefully before endorsing so wholeheartedly the return of beaver to the wild in Britain? Here in Argyll we are in one of the proposed trial areas and we had hoped that you, as people who care about the countryside, would help us oppose the scheme.

For everything moving into any area, something else has to move out. Our lochans here in North Knapdale have a balanced eco-system, perfected over at least 400 years without beaver. The introduction of new mammals requiring a considerable quantity of vegetation every day would mean that the 50m wide edging to the waterside would cease to support the small animals, insects, and therefore bird life it does at present. It only takes a beaver a matter of minutes to fell a sapling that has taken ten years to grow – during which time the tree has helped support the lives of countless other organisms. And when that sapling is gone nothing will replace it.

At the moment one of the lochans has a rare water lily, called the Least Water-lily (Nuphar Pumila). It features in the life cycle of the dragonflies for which the lochan is famous. But beaver are particularly fond of water lily, so that would be eaten pretty quickly – exit the dragonflies from the lochan.

If there were to be just one group of beaver it might be manageable, but the proposal here is to introduce up to 20, and the delightful kits of these families, as seen in your programme last night, grow up and at the age of two or three, move away and have kits of their own. In time, with appropriate sites being limited to glens with water, they would get into far less suitable places and because of the damage they have to cause by the very nature of their way of life, many would end up being killed. Is this really such a good idea?

People coming to an area expecting to see the beaver would often be disappointed because, as you said, the animals are primarily nocturnal. But that wouldn’t stop visitors attempting to get close, and in order to stop potentially dangerous situations arising, the areas where the beavers were would have to be fenced; CCTV cameras and viewing huts are already being discussed. How does this help wildlife?

As a species beaver is under no threat, in Europe there are literally hundreds of thousands of them. But the Scottish Wild Cat is down to such small numbers as to be barely viable; the Black Grouse has almost disappeared from this area and in the last two years tern colonies on our small islands in the Tayvallich bay have been completely exterminated by introduced (albeit accidentally) mink. Any of these problems would benefit enormously from the proposed half a million pounds which is proposed to be spent on the introduction of a destructive species.

Please be brave enough to mention these facts on your programme, not just the cuddly aspect of these animals. Please look at our blogsite: for thoughts and experiences of people who would prefer beaver not to be introduced here. Thank you.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

"DAM'n BUSTING NEWS" Cairnbaan Floods again

Reports have just reached us that the Beaver Company, engaged in the 'conservation' of rare flora and fauna at the British Waterways reservoir, high above Cairnbaan in the Knapdale Forest, Mid Argyll, have breached the dam releasing many thousands of litre of water onto, and flooding, the newly built residential area of Cairnbaan.
The Main contractors for the project, Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, who have admitted that they know little about the local environment, declined further comment.

No, the above is not a true report but the probability of the happening is extremely high and has not even been thought of by the perpetrators of this latest scheme to introduce an alien species, the European Beaver, to Argyll. Having experienced serious flooding, due to nothing more than normal rainfall, no resident living below this small area of many lochans would wish to be at the mercy of any 'water manager' other than that under the direct control of British Waterways, Crinan Canal Authority.

Peter Slann

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Doomed Lochan

This beautiful place has been selected by The Scottish Wildlife Trust and The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland as a release site for the proposed introduction of the beaver. Note the mats of the rare 'LeastWater-lily' (Nuphar Pumila) - beaver are particularly fond of eating water-lillies. Imagine the devastation as a family of beaver systematically strips the vegetation from the banks, foraging and felling up to 50 metres into the surrounding landscape.

Recent Press Release - Beaver - Away


The Scottish Wildlife Trust was instructed to remove their display boards and advertising material from the entrance to the Co-op, Lochgilphead, Argyll, on Tuesday. A member of the public complained that it was misleading and presented a distorted view of the proposed beaver trial. An SWT spokesperson claimed that were just canvassing opinions, but it was felt that they were exerting undue influence.

The anti beaver-trial group, Voices of Reason, said they regretted they were not given an equal opportunity to present the public with facts opposing the introduction. Dr. P. Hamilton, a member of the group says the public should “visit the Blogspot to see how the introduction of this now-alien species could adversely affect our beautiful landscape.”

Danger - beaver ahead

The ancient landscape of North Knapdale, was forged and folded by gigantic elemental forces and left to slumber through time as wind and weather carved and eroded the land. Early man lived his life governed by the seasons, his impact on the landscape a fugitive collection of rock elements so discrete they are still being discovered. The only way we know he was here. There followed an aggressive assault by later settlers, with de-afforestation for the making of charcoal, debarking for tanning, ground clearing for crops, then re-afforestation for pit props, woodchip and pulp, leading to acre upon acre of spruce, such that the form of the land was lost. Settlements were abandoned and shattered by the relentless march of the conifer. Until the day someone realised what was being destroyed, and the slow, slow reversal of that short-sighted planting policy brought about a recognition of the value of mixed woodland, and the ecological importance of Atlantic oakwoods for the survival of many species. Natural regeneration was encouraged and the landscape emerged from the conifer shroud. People stood amazed at what they had reclaimed and it became a precious and wonderful thing in their lives, a cherished and protected part of their very existence. Large and small organisations laid claim to different parts, different elements, and saving the landscape became a business and experts appeared and became the most common and irritating life form in the land. In spite of this, thousands of people continued to visit, to live, love and die there. To many people the world over, Knapdale is their spiritual home. The tranquil beauty, the rugged hills and soft hollows, the rainshine on rock face, the baking heat of summer days, the gold, rose and russet of autumn, the fierce winter storms, the manic dashing rain – sights such as these slip secretly into ones’ soul and memory, to be savoured at more stressful times.
Man has learned at last to lift his heavy foot and tread softly, at last learned that the land can heal itself if left to its own devices. Oh dear Lord, if only this were so.

For reasons wholly bureaucratic it is proposed that one of the most destructive animals in Europe – an animal reviled widely where introduced, an animal that costs its host country thousands upon thousands of pounds-worth of damage – be deliberately released into a few hundred acres of North Knapdale. Released into a chain of secluded lochans that lie jewel-like in the folds of the hills above Barnluasgan. These small lochs support resident populations of fish, amphibians, reptiles, insect life and aquatic plants; many of them are protected, such as the Adder, some of them are rare, like the Least Water-lily. It is into these thriving ecosystems that men, driven by an imperative they refuse to explain, intend to release beaver, just to see what it will do and how it will do it. The subsequent irreversible destruction of existing habitat is dismissed as of no consequence in the pursuit of quota-driven objectives.

If you love wildlife, if you love the countryside, if you love Knapdale, if you love Argyll, if you love Scotland, please write to your MSP or MP, write to Mike Russell the minister responsible and in favour of this ludicrous endeavour, write to them demanding that the application for this introduction be thrown out.
Thank you.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Letter to national papers written by Alexander & Polly Hamilton, Knapdale residents

The Editor,
cc. The Scotsman, The Herald, Scotland on Sunday, The Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, Oban Times, Argyllshire Advertiser, The Times, Scottish Field, Country Life, FWAG (Lucy Sumsion).

Dear Sir,

On Friday 19th October I attended a risible presentation at Cairnbaan near Lochgilphead, Argyll, by SWT & the RZSS about the introduction of beaver into Scotland and specifically into North Knapdale. The event was time limited by themselves, so it was evident that they were indulging in a box ticking exercise for the Executive and weren’t really interested in the concerns expressed by those attending. It is an emotive and contentious issue in the locality and it behoved them to deal honestly and openly with those concerns. Sadly almost the same half truths, evasions and prevarications that so sullied the SNH exercise were trotted out yet again only this time with the Chairman of the event chanting “European Directive” as though it were a divine revelation. There were people who arrived pro-beaver, but because of the failure of the panel to answer properly, felt there must be something to hide and so left anti-beaver.

The Cavalier fashion in which the two bodies are going about this exercise mirrors almost exactly that of SNH who also didn’t care about the legitimate concerns of those opposed to them. In 2003 when asked about damage to the microcosm, SNH said they didn’t know anything about it and didn’t think it would matter - Friday’s meeting evaded the issue completely. Neither SWT nor RZSS have done an audit of the existing flora and fauna, nor did SNH, so they have no idea what will cease to exist as a consequence of their actions. Their suggestions as to the new species that might benefit from the inevitable habitat destruction are limited to a dragonfly or a demoiselle.

SNH spent thousands of pounds of Public Money on their failed bid, apparently finding nothing morally ambiguous about being advisors to the government and promoters of the scheme. The same shabby set of ethics and morals appears to be alive and well in their successors, who, as charities, say they are not using public money. I wonder where they think it comes from? I do hope that people who support SWT will realise that they will be funding the wholesale destruction of an existing habitat by a now-alien species, and stop subscribing.

The landscape of North Knapdale has evolved through time without benefit of beaver. It is rich in all forms of wildlife, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds insects, fish, fungi and flowers, many of which are rare and protected. But it is not without its problems: mink have devastated seabird colonies; as a result of habitat destruction by SNH the red squirrel is having a hard time; and that most iconic of Scottish animals, the wild cat, is on the edge of viability. It is astonishing that neither SWT nor SNH appear to be concerned about any of this. The Gadarene rush to be the first to introduce beavers into the wild seems to have driven any sense of responsibility or obligation to existing species and problems out of their minds.

Mike Russell has already said he’s minded to grant the licence. As a former journalist one would have expected a more rigorous questioning of the proposal instead of conniving with SNH, who are now in Brussels trying to get the legislation reinterpreted to give them carte blanche to do as they please. For fairness’ sake the Minister should provide funds so that those opposed to the introduction can call upon the equivalent expertise, with the same funding, the same time scale and the same opportunities to present their case, and then set up an independent review to assess both arguments impartially.
There may well be an argument for introducing Beaver where their evident terraforming abilities would be of benefit, but that is not North Knapdale, where a balanced eco system is working very well, endangered only by SNH SWT & the RZSS.

Yours faithfully,

Alexander Hamilton

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

BEAVERS Letter to SWT from Robin Malcom local resident

Since speaking to you on the telephone, I have received your leaflet. To be taken seriously, a consultation must be conducted by an independent individual or organisation, who ensures both sides have the same resources and opportunities. One carried out by the initiation of a project lacks credibility.

Your leaflet is more pro-beaver propaganda, mostly unsubstantiated facts which destroy your case. There is no mention of Dr Kitchener’s research on their former UK distribution, based on carbon-dated remains. He showed they were once plentiful in the South of England, becoming scarcer as one moved northwards. A few occupied the upper Tweed 7000 years ago. Just one in the west about 1500BC near the Ayrshire coast. None what so ever in Argyll. To use words like “return” and “reintroduction” in the context of this country is misleading. “Dump” or “inflict” would be more accurate language.

There were, of course, beavers in the S.E. of England 60 years ago ….. the South American (coypu), which are not dam builders. Yet the damage they did was still so great, they had to be exterminated. Which is why that is no plan to release beavers in the old heartland of East Anglia and the Thames Valley. Instead they are to be foisted on Scotland.

Today, throughout Northern Europe and the Americas on land vulnerable to beavers, damage worth millions of dollars and Euros is caused every year by these pests. As importers of these creatures you will be morally and legally liable got centuries to come. The claims will be few to begin with, but will multiply thereafter in size and number. The recent escape from a supposedly secure sire in Central Scotland showed how many cherished young trees could be savaged almost overnight. In time, there could be a human death ….. possibly from giardia (“beaver fever”) related illness, or a driving accident. Or the spawning beds of a major salmon river spoiled. Then the amount would be huge.

I can think of no species introduction, planned or unplanned, which has not proved costly. Rabbits, grey squirrels, sika deer, Canada geese, ponticum, Japanese knotweed. Recently hedgehogs in the Hebrides. Mink too.

The UK & Eire are presently beaver-free. Most countries of Europe are not. We should learn from their experience. There is no need to slavishly follow their example. We should be proud that we have the good sense not to harbour these pests, and therefore do not have to suffer the consequences of their depredations.