PLANS to reintroduce beavers to West Cumbria are proving popular.

Eighty-five people attended the first beaver reintroduction drop-in event, which was held in Ennerdale Bridge this week.

The event, at The Gather, was hailed a big success by the project leaders Wild Ennerdale, a partnership between the three landowners, the National Trust, Forestry England and United Utilities, which is supported by Natural England.

"Thank you to everyone who came along to The Gather, we really enjoyed discussing our vision with around 85 people," said a spokesperson.

Those who missed it can join online talks at 7pm on October 28 and November 10.

The project is looking into reintroducing beavers.

"The Eurasian beaver is a well-studied species capable of providing biodiversity and economic benefits through its natural activities and offers a unique opportunity for Ennerdale," said the spokesman.

"Our vision is to see free living beavers reintroduced to the length of the River Ehen, from mountains to sea.

"As a first step, we propose to host some beaver family groups in the (partially enclosed) upper valley, east of Ennerdale Water. This would start a three to five-year public engagement period during which we would engage with local landowners and communities to share and build up knowledge and experience with beavers living in the landscape.

"At the end of this period, we would hold a formal consultation to see if the local community supports the vision for beavers to have access to the full length of the River Ehen.

"As a partnership we want to see beavers having full freedom to explore unhindered and are not proposing a permanent enclosed release."

The group commissioned an independent expert-led ecology feasibility study which was completed in 2020 and concluded that the valley would be suitable for a multi-family beaver release.

A licence is required from Natural England to release beavers.

"Ahead of the licence application, we are spending time engaging publicly with local communities and authorities with the help of Wild Intrigue who bring specialist experience from other beaver sites in the UK," said the spokesman.

"We hope to be in a position to seek formal consultation which will be co-ordinated through a dedicated Citizen Space webpage."

Depending on engagement and licence application outcomes, the timeline for beavers arriving in the upper valley in Ennerdale is Spring 2023.

"This is subject to change but gives an idea of aspirations," said the spokesman.

Comments are welcome on their Facebook page. Details of the online events are at