Anglers who have fished Foremark Reservoir in Derbyshire for a generation held a protest outside Severn Trent Water’s Headquarters today after the water company refused to back down on its controversial plans to close two thirds of the reservoir to angling due to concerns about health and safety of the public, the anglers themselves and the structural integrity of the dam wall. Afterwards, a meeting was held between Foremark Fly Fishers, the Angling Trust and the Operations Director of Severn Trent.
The Angling Trust and Foremark Fly Fishers will launch a petition this weekend at the Spring Fly Fair in Newark to seek the support of thousands of anglers who are angered by this decision by the privatised utility. The petition will go online next week on the Angling Trust website at www.anglingtrust.net
Earlier this week, support for the anglers case came from an unlikely source: the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), whose Strategy Division wrote to the angling club: “there are a great many myths circulating about what ‘health and safety regulations’ require; they are just that – myths. Unfortunately some organisations fall for these myths and act upon them. It does appear that health and safety is being used as a reason to limit the amount of fishing along the banks of the reservoir when the real reason may well be something else altogether.”
The HSE went on to suggest that the anglers ask the company for a copy of the risk assessment which led to the decision being taken. Despite several requests to Severn Trent, a copy has not been forthcoming and at a meeting with Peter Gavin, a Director at Severn Trent, it was confirmed that the document would not be released. This has led anglers to speculate that no such assessment exists.
David Coates, Chairman of Foremark Fly Fishers said: “I felt that the meeting was positive although no firm commitments were made, the dialogue has opened up and the company has agreed to make a ‘response with substance’ in the next two weeks or so.”
Alan Dawes, Secretary Foremark Fly Fishers and Angling Correspondent for the Burton Mail said: “it was good to meet Severn Trent face to face, and although nothing positive came out of the meeting, it was obvious that they listened to our grievances and were prepared to discuss it further in the near future.”
Mark Lloyd Chief Executive, Angling Trust said: “I am appalled by the way Severn Trent has treated their customers. There has been no consultation about this entirely unreasonable decision and no attempt to take on board our members’ suggestions for measures to mitigate any risks which might exist. It is clear that the Health and Safety Executive agrees. We will be calling on all anglers to sign our petition and, if they are shareholders or customers of Severn Trent, to write to the company and complain.”