The Environment Agency has come under fire this week over its handling of the new fishing licence launch which has left countless anglers out of pocket and unable to go fishing.
Complaints have flooded into AT’s offices from readers, with most labelling the online ordering system a ‘shambles’.
Having forked out weeks ago for their annual permits, tens of thousands of anglers are still waiting to receive the vital document. Others have encountered problems when buying licences at post offices, where staff have refused to issue permits unless customers produce their ‘reminder letter’ from the EA.
Among those to have suffered is Dave Webber (61), from Chelsea in London. He said: “They took my money in March and I was given a reference number to quote to any bailiffs until my permit arrived. I went to one fishery twice, and was turned away both times because I didn’t have the full permit. At another, nobody fishing there had received their licence, not even the bailiff who had taken a whole notepad full of reference numbers. It’s a shambles.”
Events have taken a similar path for pensioner Arthur Pickett, from the Midlands. “Why did the EA have to waste so much of our money inventing such an ineffective new system? I used the internet to pay for my licence in March, and I still haven’t received anything.”
Delays over licence deliveries have formed a large percentage of the complaints, but AT reporter Ben Fisk experienced another of the system’s frailties.
“I paid for one licence and a week later received two. Who knows how many times this has happened? The licences contain no images of the holder, so what’s to stop me selling it on?”
When contacted by AT, the Agency admitted that there had been a host of teething problems with the new system: “We know that some customers have not yet received their licence. Post Office Ltd, which operates the online system on our behalf, is working to resolve the issues. A receipt and/or reference number is acceptable proof to our bailiffs ¬ we have made our enforcement staff aware of this and no angler should be turned away from fishing if they have paid for their licence,” said a spokesperson.