Archive | January, 2013

Hydro Havoc

14 Jan

We have been doing battle with the Environment Agency consistently over the past four years about its regulation of hydropower on our rivers.  Hydropower has the potential to cause great damage to our coarse and game fish stocks by damaging fish in turbines, preventing them getting to their spawning or feeding grounds and by reducing the flow left in stretches of river next to the turbines.  ALL fish (apart perhaps from bullheads) need to migrate up and down rivers to complete their lifecycle.  Hydropower turbines are like traffic lights on motorways; they have the potential to prevent fish producing more fish.  Fish passes only work for some of the time, and predators like cormorants and otters quickly work out that these are places where it is easy to pick off prey – our fish!

We have heavily criticised the Environment Agency for failing to uphold its duties to ‘to maintain, improve and develop fisheries’  and to ‘consider and give due weight to fisheries’ when granting impoundment licences associated with hydropower schemes. I have written a strongly-worded letter to Paul Leinster, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, highlighting his organisation’s shambolic regulation of hydropower and demanding immediate action to put it right.

The recent successful action by Fish Legal on behalf of the Pride of Derby Angling Club at Sawley weir to halt the damaging hydropower scheme on the river Trent was seriously hindered by the actions of the EA who granted an impoundment licence to the developers without any regard to the impact on the fishery. The developers were granted a permit by the Agency which allowed them to kill up to 10 adult salmon and 100 coarse fish in a 24 hour period without fear of enforcement action. By granting this licence the Agency also gave a private company a statutory defence to any civil claims against it for damaging the fishery caused by changing water levels and flow rates.

Alan Miller, Pride of Derby Club Secretary

We have secured a meeting with Mr. Leinster this month to discuss these points and to highlight the concerns of anglers and fishery owners.

The minimal level of attention to fish and fishing is utterly inadequate from a public body which has a statutory duty to maintain, improve and develop fisheries.  The fisheries department of the Agency, which is funded by our rod licences, does try to make the case internally for greater protection, but far too often they are ignored by other departments who seem hell-bent on selling our fish down the river to developers keen to make a quick buck from subsidies paid for by our taxes.  It’s nothing short of a scandal and we will keep up the fight in 2013, on behalf of all anglers, and our beloved fish.

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Funding Facts

2 Jan

Just before Christmas the big news was that the Angling Trust has been awarded £1.8m to grow participation in angling over the next 4 years. There’s been a mixed reaction to this in the media and on the blogs – some people have criticised the Trust for not getting more funding or for it not being directed at other areas of the sport, such as our international teams.  What they don’t know is how difficult it is to get government funding for anything, and how tight the criteria are for what it can be spent on.

Sport England set very tight guidelines for funding bids.

Sport England set very tight guidelines for funding bids.

The award is of course great news, and without a lot of hard work and innovation, we might well have got nothing.  It’s true that this award is much less than other sports will receive over the same period.  Angling is not an Olympic sport and we still have some way to go before we can convince Sport England to increase our funding more than they have already.  Sport England is absolutely clear that they will not fund our international teams.

After the success of London 2012, government funding for elite sport is concentrated solely on Olympic Sports

After the success of London 2012, government funding for elite sport is concentrated solely on Olympic Sports which means that that angling misses out.

Bidding for this funding has taken most of the last year and we have put hundreds of hours of work into doing so.  It might be useful to provide a bit of background.  Over the last four years, the Angling Development Board (now part of the Angling Trust) was funded to build the capacity for angling to increase participation.  This included training 1,400 coaches, creating 35 County Angling Action Groups and getting 91 clubs to achieve Clubmark accreditation, which helps them attract funding from County Sports Partnerships for angling participation.  This funding has now come to an end and we were invited, along with 46 other sports, to bid for funding for the next four years from Sport England.

Early this year, Sport England was told by its sponsoring department, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, that the key aim of the 2013-2017 funding cycle would be to increase weekly participation. Whether the sport takes an hour or less and could be undertaken during a weekday lunch break or dark evening, such as swimming or running, or whether the activity took a longer time such as angling, all sports are being treated the same.  Therefore our plans had to focus on this narrow objective and they made it very clear that unless we did so, we would get no money at all.

With the cost of bait, transport and permits all rising

With the cost of bait, transport and permits all rising plus the time constraints of modern life, getting anglers fishing once a week is a major challenge.

Because angling is generally pretty time-consuming, and can be expensive, getting more people fishing once a week is quite a challenge.  The good news for angling is that only a small proportion of anglers fish once a week, so there is lots of potential for growth!  Our plans had to show that we could achieve Sport England’s objectives with all these constraints.  We have therefore focussed our bid on making it easy and affordable for people to go fishing more often.  This work will help build our capacity to deliver other objectives, with funding from other sources, but it will have to focus on this objective.

During the bid process, Sport England told us to limit our bid to £1.5m and to focus our bid on increasing angling participation among older anglers and anglers with disabilities. This was after our first draft bid was significantly larger and included programmes aimed at children and young adults. It should also be noted that £1.5m would have been a reduction in the last four years’ level of funding, which was a position we did not wish to be in. Our final bid was therefore quite bold, because it was pitched at £2.35m. The early feedback from Sport England was positive and they welcomed our approach.

As we now know, we were partly successful in increasing the funding above the £1.5m limit they had imposed.  We would have liked more, but it was a very competitive process and the people at Sport England are keen to support sports like athletics and netball which are seen to be more intensely active.  However much we might have got, the funding would still have to be spent on increasing the frequency of angling participation and be targeted at the older age groups.

This funding from Sport England is only part of the package we are preparing.  We have been working over the past year to develop a National Angling Strategy – Fishing For Life – which aims to prepare the ground for new funding from the Environment Agency and others to support growth of angling participation among other age groups and to recruit new anglers. When we put all this together, it becomes an integrated approach to getting more people going fishing more often, which is what we are all about.

EA Funding will be key for our plans

EA Funding will be key to our National Angling Strategy

Until they change their position on funding our elite anglers, our teams will have to continue to rely on self-funding and the limited sponsorship that we have been able to secure to support them. We intend to review our domestic competitions across all three disciplines to see if any funds can be made available from those competitions to help support our national teams and we will continue to fight for more sponsorship for our Team England anglers.

We work hard to secure sponsorship for "Team England" such as the 3 year deal that Tubertini UK have signed to support our England World Boat Team.

We work hard to secure sponsorship for “Team England” such as the 3 year deal that Tubertini UK have signed to support our England World Boat Team.

So, to secure these funds is a major achievement given the constraints imposed by the government and its funding agencies.  But we will keep battling to win more funding from a wide range of sources to support angling in all its forms, for all age groups.  With all these funders, the reality is that we have to dance to their tune.  I think we have done a very good job to secure this support in the current climate.