ANGLERS’ FEARS FOR RESERVOIR
Dalbeattie club’s future in jeopardy
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