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  1. #1
    Ian Cloke Guest

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    ANGLERS on the River Nairn could find themselves in conflict on the upper reaches of the river with canoeists this season.

    They claim Inverness Canoe Club president Steve Mackinnon is threatening the angling community after his club’s plans for a slalom course at Nairn harbour were jeopardised following concerns that the scheme could harm wildlife and fish stocks.

    “The situation is really getting out of hand and basically what the canoeists are doing is retaliating because there has been opposition to their plans for the slalom course,” claimed the past president of Nairn Angling Association Charlie Black.

    “Unfortunately there is little we can do to stop them because of recent legislation which gives canoeists the right to go on to any river.

    “They have used the bottom stretch of the river before, which is not used by many anglers. But I have never seen them on to the upper reaches.

    “I fear if this is going to be the response of the canoeists, when they don’t get their way, it could have a devastating effect on small rivers like the Nairn and the angling industry - which is one of the biggest contributors to the Scottish economy - will suffer.”

    Mr Black’s comments come after councillors on Nairn Area Committee of Highland Council deferred an application by the canoe club for a grant of £30,000 from its Highland 2007 budget for the slalom course.

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  2. #2
    Ian Cloke Guest

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    At their January meeting Provost Sandy Park announced a decision would have to be deferred until the club submitted a planning application.

    But Mr Mackinnon claims the canoe club has been caught in a Catch-22 situation because of scare-mongering by a minority of anglers and wildlife enthusiasts.

    “We needed the money from the grant to finance the project including going through the planning process.

    “Without these funds in place we can’t proceed. And of course because we can’t go through planning we cannot engage in a full consultation process.”

    Mr Mackinnon claimed he attended a meeting of the Angling Association to outline his plans and there was no adverse reaction.

    “We were trying to be fair by carrying out training on a 75-metre stretch of the river which is not used a great deal by the anglers.

    “To my mind there is a small minority of anglers who simply don’t want canoeists on the river at all.

    “We have already had discussions with SEPA, the RSPB and SNH, who had no real concerns. But obviously we have not been able to get a formal response because we have not gone through planning.”

    Mr Mackinnon has warned anglers that because the slalom plan has effectively been stymied, members would have to start using upper stretches of the river at Howford, Brackla and Cawdor for a variety of river training instead.

    He insists that canoeists have used these stretches to paddle in the past but that right is now protected by law.

    “If anglers take exception they need to read up on Scottish access law,” he added.

    Nairn Angling Association President Willie Barron told the Highland News: “There are many anglers very angry with the way Mr Mackinnon has reacted.

    “At the end of the day we pay a lot of money to rent these beats and in Fishery Board levies. The canoeists don’t pay anything to use the river.”

    Mr Barron acknowledged his members were divided on the issue and acknowledged that the Association had taken no formal vote on the issue.

    “I still think we need to get some clarity and with that in mind at our next committee meeting I will be asking members to call an extraordinary general meeting and take a vote on whether or not we should oppose the slalom course if the canoe club decide to pursue it.”

    Mr Mackinnon added: “Regardless of whether the Angling Association support us or not, we can’t have £1,000 to fund the necessary planning application.”

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