Dal­beat­tie club’s fu­ture in jeop­ardy

The Galloway News - - FRONT PAGE - Stu­art Gille­spie

Fish­er­men fear a shock reser­voir move may have sounded the death knell of their club just months be­fore its 100th an­niver­sary.

It emerged this week that Scot­tish Wa­ter is pon­der­ing pulling the plug on Dal­beat­tie’s reser­voir.

The pool at Buit­tle, pop­u­lar with swim­mers and walk­ers, was par­tially drained last year to tackle the Amer­i­can Sig­nal Cray­fish prob­lem.

Now there are fears breach­ing the dam would have wide­spread ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the district.

But Dal­beat­tie An­gling As­so­ci­a­tion stands to be the big loser. It has al­ready been hit by changes to leg­is­la­tion aimed at pre­serv­ing sal­mon stocks.

Chair­man Will Mar­shall be­lieves it could place a big ques­tion mark over the fu­ture of the club.

He said: “We were shocked to learn about it. It is a real blow. The cen­te­nary of the as­so­ci­a­tion is com­ing up in 2019.

“Lo­cal peo­ple like to walk their dogs there, peo­ple swim in it, farm­ers use it for their wa­ter troughs. It is a big as­set to the re­gion.

“As an as­so­ci­a­tion, we sell be­tween

£3,000 and £4,000 of day tick­ets which is 200 fish­ing days. That is peo­ple com­ing into the re­gion, buy­ing fish­ing sup­plies, us­ing the pubs and bed and break­fasts.

“It’s not just the an­gling as­so­ci­a­tion that ben­e­fits and it is some­thing that is a real feather in the cap for the re­gion.”

Scot­tish Wa­ter drained the reser­voir, which is not used for drink­ing wa­ter, last year so that North Amer­i­can Sig­nal Cray­fish could be re­moved.

Mr Mar­shall de­scribed the process, which also in­cluded Gal­loway Fish­eries Trust and other or­gan­i­sa­tions, as “a re­ally good part­ner­ship op­er­a­tion”.

He said: “It has al­ways been promised that the reser­voir would be re­filled and leased to the an­gling as­so­ci­a­tion. It would ben­e­fit us as an as­so­ci­a­tion and also farm­ers could use it for their wa­ter troughs.

“It has all gone rather well but now, de­spite the prom­ises, Scot­tish Wa­ter seem de­ter­mined to breach the reser­voir.

“Scot­tish Wa­ter have in the past of­fered to as­set trans­fer the reser­voir to the an­gling as­so­ci­a­tion or the farm­ers but the li­a­bil­ity un­der the new reser­voir act means we’re un­able to take it on.”

Mr Mar­shall says the fish­eries trust and district sal­mon fish­eries board back his stance as do lo­cal politi­cians.

Gal­loway and West Dum­fries MSP Fin­lay Car­son has raised the mat­ter with En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Rose anna Cun­ning­ham.

He said: “I have writ­ten to her about how im­por­tant it is, not just to Dal­beat­tie and the fish­er­man, but to the re­gion as a whole.

“I ac­cept Scot­tish Wa­ter have to get the best value but they have to take a wider look and for a com­mu­nity like Dal­beat­tie to lose a re­source such as this would be un­ac­cept­able.”

Dum­fries and Gal­loway MP Alis­ter Jack added: “Buit­tle Reser­voir is an im­por­tant as­set for the lo­cal an­gling com­mu­nity.

“Scot­tish Wa­ter must look at all op­tions to keep the reser­voir ac­ces­si­ble to the Dal­beat­tie An­gling As­so­ci­a­tion.

“The present ar­range­ment would be the best op­tion, how­ever com­mu­nity own­er­ship and re­duc­ing the wa­ter ca­pac­ity to bring Buit­tle be­low the reg­u­la­tions of the Reser­voirs Act should also be ex­plored.”

A spokesman for Scot­tish Wa­ter said: “We are in the process of scop­ing all the avail­able op­tions for the reser­voir. We will con­tinue to work closely with the lo­cal com­mu­nity as our in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­tinue.”

Con­cerns Will Mar­shall, chair­man of the Dal­beat­tie An­gling As­so­ci­a­tion

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