It may be less populated but 80% of Scotland’s land area is agricultural land , with 90% of sheep grazing in Less Favoured Areas/Areas of Natural Constraint with dairy and arable farming in lowland areas.
Do you think mainland Europe is wilderness? lynx, wolves and bears live in islands of forests and highlands, where sheep grazing is also concentrated. And increasingly they settle also in the farmland mosaic, too.
Just a recent example. A reintroduced lynx hunted a roe deer in Poland. In the middle of a vast field of wheat in an open farmland:
In modern times, the infamous quote of "its the economy, stupid" shows where public interest truly rests - having financial security above all else.
Actually, economy is firmly on the side of lynx and against sheep farmers. Sheep farming, and other farming in vast areas of Britain has been unprofitable for decades. It persists against the economy because of huge donations. Without these, people would move to profitable jobs in cities, and large areas of Britain would be taken over by tourism, forests and wildlife. This is how continental Europe gets back much of its forests. They grow on the land where 100 or 150 years ago poor farmers tried to grow crops or sheep on low quality land.
My point stands that there isn't enough land with habitat continuity
Modeling showed that Britain is big enough to keep self-sustaining populations of large predators.
That is a major stumbling block which cannot be overlooked. Without amenable landowners, these apex predators would simply be exterminated each time they entered areas where they were not welcome,
Wrong paradigm, wrong paradigm. Human attitudes and economy are completely fluid and can be influenced. But you treat them as a constraint.
Actually British system where local people have all legal say on conservation can be turned to advantage of wildlife. One sympathetic estate in Knepp was all what it took to bring back white storks. And all oppoosition elsewhere in Britain had no word. In the same way, it is enough to find one locality in Britain sympathetic to the lynx to have them back.
If the argument is that (re)introduction of species absent for hundreds of years should take place, then surely they must be introduced into a landscape that matches the temporal scale at the point they last existed? Otherwise what is the distinction in what is actually native/natural?!
Not true. As said before, large carnivores and most large birds can live in modern human-dominated landscape. They are not habitat specialists. Red kites were not released in places which resembles Medieval Britain the most.
I completely agree, but again, my point related to the apportion of available resources - it is my opinion that money should be spent on what we have that is of value, rather than what we don't have!
That is your purely personal opinion. I will offer an opposite opinion and can justify it. A good choice is to prioritize protection of very rare before rare and that before common. This would preserve the possibly full set of natural riches of Britain. Like a single pair of Ospreys in Britain was given more value than additional 100 pairs of Skylarks. In this hierarchy, the animal completely extinct in the country has the highest priority. Bringing it back enriches the natural riches of Britain more than moderately rare or common species.