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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Local angling clubs voice “taken away by DAERA overnight”

Gareth Cooper: River Enhancement Officer forKells, Connor and Glenwherry Angling Club.

Gareth Cooper: River Enhancement Officer for Kells, Connor and Glenwherry Angling Club.


Local fishing clubs have expressed serious concerns at the change of DAERA guidance that previously would have ensured fisheries were consulted on the granting of what DAERA term “Exemption Permits” for those wishing to abstract water from our rivers.

 

The exemption permit, once granted by DAERA, allows those abstracting water from a river or waterway to diverge from the Fisheries Act regulations.

 



The guidance, which stood for 20 years, originally stated that before such a permit was issued DAERA must consult with those who applied for the permit and the adjoining fishery that would be affected.

 

This guidance was changed following a question to Inland Fisheries as to why DAERA failed to consult with the Crumlin and District Angling Association on the granting of an exemption in 2023.

 

Speaking today Gareth Cooper said:

 

“Kells, Connor and Glenwherry Angling Club is extremely concerned about the change in guidance that local fisheries were to be consulted before an exemption permit allowing the abstraction of water from the river was granted.

 



“The guidance that has been in place since 2003 offered fishing clubs a say in the process allowing us to state any concerns we had in terms of the impact on the natural environment and our rights and entitlements as angling clubs.

 

“Shockingly this guidance has been changed with no consultation with local clubs or notification of the changes to club secretaries by DAERA.”


The effects of water abstraction on the Crumlin River.

The effects of water abstraction on the Crumlin River.


Gareth continued:

 

“It only transpired when one of our local clubs, the Crumlin and District Angling Association asked of DAERA why they failed to consult with the club after the granting of an exemption permit in 2023, despite serious concerns on the effects of abstraction on the Crumlin River which has left stretches of the river with virtually no water each summer.

 



“The response from DAERA beggars' belief, stating that the 21-year-old guidance was “incorrect”. How no one from DAERA noticed this inaccuracy over 21 years is beyond us as it was in bold lettering in the Department’s own guidance and the application form for a permit.

 

“Department officials then proceeded to change the guidance overnight, relegating the need to consult with local angling clubs on any such issues.

 



Gareth concluded:


“We see this rapid change in guidance as an effort to remove the rights and entitlements of local anglers, their representatives and as an attack on the environmental protections that can be delivered by a robust consultation process. It flies in the face of transparency and openness.

 

“We will be writing to raise this matter with the new Minister in order to bring it to his attention.

 

“DAERA should reinstate the right to be consulted with immediate effect and indeed consult with local clubs on any further changes to guidance or legislation affecting our waterways.”

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