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Anglers Slam New ‘Pole Tax’ Proposal


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Anglers have reacted angrily to news of a proposed new licensing structure that could add ‘hundreds of pounds’ to rod licence fees.

Anglers across the UK have reacted angrily to the proposal, set to be given the green light to proceed this morning, that a new rod licence fee is to be levied to help increase angler safety when fishing close to overhead power cables.

The proposed new licence follows months of lobbying of both Parliament and the Environment Agency by all of the electricity generating boards, who remain concerned by the safety aspects of angling close to overhead power cables despite their sterling work over a number of years to reduce accidents by improving education, awareness and signage.

Under the new licencing structure unveiled today anglers will be required, from implementation one year from today on 01 April 2014, to pay an additional fee to be calculated upon the length of rod they are using, as anglers using longer rods are thought to be more at significantly higher risk of injury when fishing close to overhead power lines.

The licence structure will see short rods, designated as 10ft and under, totally exempt from the new tax but all rods over and above that length will be charged at a suggested rate of 20p per cm. Thus an angler using a standard 12ft feeder rod would be required to pay an additional annual licence of approximately £12.40 and users of 14ft float rods would see their fees rise by £24.60 per year. However, the real problem comes with users of poles, which are regularly used up to 16m in length, and which, if used at that length under the new regulations, would attract a fee of approximately £259 in addition to the usual EA rod licence, which would still be payable.

It is understood licence checks would be undertaken both by staff from the electricity companies and by regular EA bailiff patrols with the angler expected to be able to produce a licence for the longest rod they had in their possession on the day of the check, not just the length of rod they might be using at the time.

Chris Mander, representing the electricity consortium commented:

“Our industry prides itself on our safety record and we have demonstrated this in relation to angling and electricity for a number of years and we shall continue to work in the interests of education and safety with all angling clubs and organisations however we have to recognise that those anglers who use longer rods are more at risk and, as such, it is only right that they should pay extra to help us to deliver a better safety package for all anglers.

I foresee a time when this additional licence fee will allow us to fund the burying of cables adjacent to fisheries which will help to eliminate the problem entirely and as such it should be welcomed by all anglers.”

However anglers saw the situation slightly differently and on the day the new 2013/14 rod licence became valid long-time pole user Geoff Green, interviewed when fishing a commercial pool miles from the nearest overhead power lines, commented:

“We already have to pay for a licence to partake in our sport, to pay extra for something which does not affect all of us and for work which should be undertaken as a matter of course is totally outrageous and it will stop a lot of anglers fishing – or at least fishing the way they want to fish. If it means paying over £200 more for me to fish a pole then I’m going to stick with my short 7ft bomb rod instead.”

Angling Trust spokesman Martin Salter was holidaying in Australia on the day of the announcement and unable to comment, although a statement from angling’s governing body is expected soon.

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Rod licence, pole fishing