A small heard of wild bison is set to be released in Kent in spring 2022 to help revive the species.
Wild bison have not been in the UK for 6,000 years, but with this £1m project that will reintroduce the animals, a future for the species can be secured.
The first phase of release will see one male and three females set free in a woodland. The bison will also naturally regenerate a former pine wood plantation by killing off trees, creating a healthy mix of woodland, scrub and glades that will boost insect, bird and plant life.
The bison will come from the Netherlands or Poland, where previous releases have been safe and successful.
Since 1970, the population of most of the UK’s important wildlife have plummeted by an average of 60%, making Britain is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.
Paul Hadaway, from Kent Wildlife Trust, said: “The Wilder Blean project will prove that a wilder, nature-based solution is the right one to tackle the climate and nature crisis we now face. Using missing keystone species like bison to restore natural processes to habitats is the key to creating bio-abundance in our landscape.”
Trees are killed by bison eating the bark or rubbing against them to remove their thick winter fur.
This dead wood is a feast for insects and birds. It also creates a sunny clearing where native plans can survive.
The trust believe nightingales and turtle doves will benefit from the bison’s ‘ecosystem engineering’.
Steppe Bison are thought to have roamed the UK until about 6,000 years ago but went globally extinct due to hunting and changes in habitat.
The European bison that will be released in Kent is a descendant of the species and the closest living relative.
The European bison is the continent’s largest land mammal with bulls weighing up to a tonne. Stan Smith of Kent Wildlife Trust said: “They’re enormous but what is amazing is how they blend into their background and they’re quite docile really.”
The project will cover 500 hectares with the bison first placed in a 150-hectare area, giving them enough space even as the herd grows. Normal cattle fencing will stop them wandering further afield.
The public will be able to visit the bison with rangers and watch them from viewing platforms one they are settled.
Paul Whitfield, of Wildwood Trust said: “The partners in the Kent project have long dreamed of restoring the true wild woodlands that have been missing from England for too long.
“People will be able to experience nature in a way they haven’t before, connecting them back to the natural world around them in a deeper way.”
The bison will be kept ‘as wild as possible’ in order for the project to succeed which means they will not be given food or artificial shelter.
“This initiative could be good news for Britain’s battered biodiversity,” said Rebecca Wrigley, of Rewilding Britain. “It’s increasingly clear that bold and imaginative rewilding is urgently needed to tackle the country’s worrying loss of wildlife.”
She added that far more needed to be done across the UK to reintroduce large herbivores and “unleash their biodiversity-boosting rewilding magic”.
Smith said: “Sometimes in the rewilding debate people think that it’s a look back to the past, but that’s not what we’re about. We’re about trying to find the right natural solution for the modern world.”
Boy, 15, arrested after teenage boy stabbed to death outside school
He’s the second person to be arrested
A teenage boy has been arrested following the murder of a 15-year-old on Wednesday.
The suspect, also 15, was picked up by police after student Khayri McLean was stabbed to death in Huddersfield.
He has now been arrested in connection with the murder.
He’s the second person to be arrested as police investigate Khayri’s death outside his school.
West Yorkshire Police said: “Police investigating the murder of 15-year-old Khayri McLean in Huddersfield have arrested a second youth in connection with the incident.
“The 15-year-old male was arrested yesterday and is currently in custody. A 16-year-old male who was arrested yesterday also remains in custody.
“Officers from West Yorkshire Police’s homicide and major enquiry team (HMET) are continuing to conduct enquiries into the death of Khayri, who died after being stabbed on Woodhouse Hill, Huddersfield, on Wednesday.”
Kwasi Kwarteng scraps cap on bankers’ bonuses in first mini-budget as Chancellor
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Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng gave his first mini-budget in the House of Commons this morning.
He began by discussing the government’s plan to support people with the cost of energy, including freezing domestic bills at £2,500 and giving out the £400 rebate.
There’s also unit price limits for companies.
Kwarteng said he believes the UK needs a ‘new approach for a new era’ to achieve growth of 2.5%, saying the three important parts of his mini-budget are reforming the economy’s supply side, tax cuts and a responsible approach when it comes to public finances.
As part of this, the Chancellor announced a new bill to overhaul planning restrictions, saying this will ‘unpick the complex patchwork of planning restrictions and EU-derived laws’.
He revealed that benefit claimants will see their benefits reduced if they do not fulfil their job searching commitments.
Kwarteng also confirmed that the cap on bankers’ bonuses will be scrapped, following reports that he would make this one of his first moves.
As well as that, the planned corporation tax increase has been cancelled, and will remain at 19%, with the Chancellor also setting out a series of tax cuts for businesses.
This includes tax cuts for businesses in designated tax sites for 10 years, accelerated tax reliefs for buildings, and no business rates to pay for newly occupied business residences.
Drag Race UK star Cherry Valentine has died aged 28
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Drag star George Ward, known as Cherry Valentine, has sadly passed away aged 28, it’s been confirmed this morning.
Ward’s family announced the news, describing his death as a ‘profound shock’.
He appeared on series two of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, before going on to front the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen And Proud.
According to his family, Ward – who was raised in Darlington, County Durham as part of the Traveller community – died on Sunday.
He qualified as a mental health nurse back in 2015 before he began his career in drag.
Ward’s family said in a statement: “It is with the most heart-wrenching and deepest sadness to inform you that our George – Cherry Valentine – has tragically passed away.
“This will come as a profound shock to most people and we understand there is no easy way for this to be announced.
“As his family, we are still processing his death and our lives will never be the same.
“We understand how much he is loved and how many lives he has inspired and touched. All we ask is for your patience and your prayers in this time. We love you Georgie.”