by Mo Metcalf Fisher

The Chairman of the Angling All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), has raised a decision by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust (NWT) not to permit angling at the Attenborough Nature Reserve in the House of Commons.

Speaking in the House of Commons chamber last month, Sir Charles Walker KBE, the Member of Parliament for Broxbourne and new Chairman of the Angling Trust, questioned the move by the NWT and used the opportunity to reiterate the benefits of angling on mental health.

Anglers will no longer be able to use Attenborough Nature Reserve for fishing. Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust announced a 12-month suspension of all fishing permits at the site from 31 May 2022, according to local news reports.

The NWT, which bought the land in December 2020, said it had originally been open to negotiating with the Nottingham Anglers Association to allow fishing to continue with fewer spots, but this was rejected.

Sir Charles said that it was high time to “have a debate on the positive impact that angling has on participants’ mental health and wellbeing.”

He also called on members to celebrate the work of “enlightened” wildlife trusts, while calling out those such as NWT for not allowing angling on their land. “Anglers like me love our rivers and streams as much as football fans love their clubs,” Walker continued. “It’s a visceral relationship and wildlife trusts should not get in between it.”

Mark Spencer, the Leader of the Commons said that he was “disappointed to hear that the NWT is taking that approach to the angling community.”

Charles Jardine, a renowned angler and spokesman for the Countryside Alliance, added that in addition to mental health benefits, angling and conservation “go hand in hand”.

He said: “Anglers truly are the eyes and ears of the river bank and we care passionately about ensuring our rivers and lakes are habitats full of a diverse range of nature. On a human level, the mental health benefits of angling are incredibly important and during the lockdown period, when it was eventually permitted, many people took it up as a way of escaping the troubles of everyday life.”

Mr Jardine added: “It is essential that no unnecessary restrictions are brought in which could impede the ability of people to take part in this important activity. Doing so could prove a determent to river-based conservation work, rather than aide it. We are pleased that the local Angling Trust are spearheading talks with the relevant wildlife trust so that a way forward can be found as quickly as possible”.

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