There is good news for wildlife fans as Natural England agree to give beavers that have set up home in a Devon river their freedom.

A licence will be issued to Devon Wildlife Trust permitting the managed release into the wild of beavers on a five year trial basis.

Natural England’s Board announced the decision today (Wednesday, January 28), meaning that the group will be the first wild beavers in England for over 400 years.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s licence application has been thoroughly assessed against the internationally recognised guidelines published by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The licence is subject to a range of conditions, including confirmation that the beavers are of Eurasian origin and are free of the Echinococcus multilocularis parasite.

Under the terms of the licence, by September at the latest, Devon Wildlife Trust must develop a management strategy to deal quickly with any undesirable impacts which the beavers may have on the River Otter during the trial period, as well as a monitoring programme to study their impacts.

Andrew Sells, Natural England’s Chairman said: "Reintroduction of a species is a complicated and emotive subject and we have considered this application very carefully. Responses to our written consultation and public meetings have been generally positive and we are now satisfied with Devon Wildlife Trust’s plans for managing and monitoring the project, which will allow important evidence to be gathered during the trial on any impacts which the beavers may have."

"Future decisions by Natural England on the release of beavers will in large part be informed by the results of this trial. The unauthorised release of beavers remains illegal and Natural England does not expect to grant any other licences for beaver release during this trial period."

"Trapping and testing of the animals for Echinococcus multilocularis will be carried out by the Animal and Plant Health Agency under a separate licence that was granted towards the end of 2014."