Would you pay an extra £6.50 for your rod licence?
That’s the question anglers may well be forced to answer next season if recent proposals to strip £9.4 million from the Environment Agency’s budget are carried through.
As reported in last week’s Angling Times, the contentious proposals from Government advisory body the Wildlife and Countryside Link would see the EA relying solely on money raised by rod licence sales to fund its work.
Considering the fact that the Agency is stretched to financial breaking point already, the shortfall would almost certainly need to be recouped elsewhere, with anglers’ pockets being the most obvious option.
Given that 1.5 million rod licences were sold last season, the increase needed per angler to meet the shortfall is around £6.50 each, taking the cost from £27 to £33.50.
Angling Times polled a cross-section of 1,000 readers on whether they would be prepared to pay the extra, and 60 per cent said ‘no’, with the remainder saying they would only do so on the proviso that the EA became more transparent about how the money is spent.
“Before I’d pay, I think the EA would need to fully justify the increase and introduce some form of customer charter for anglers,” said AT reader Ryan Neal from Sheffield, while Steve Smithson from Manchester commented, “At a cost of less than £3 per month, the fishing licence would still be a bargain.” Totally against the possible increase though, was AT reader Steve Carter, saying: “I would give up fishing rather than pay the extra.” John Williams, Secretary of the Birmingham Angling Association, the UK’s largest angling club, said, “Traditionally coarse anglers have never seen any benefit from the £9.4 million grant-in-aid the Agency receives anyway, the money mainly goes to trout and salmon work. So to make coarse anglers pay more to fund areas that are of no benefit to them is ridiculous.
“An increase in price will also just lead to more license evasion - something we’re seeing more of on our waters now anyway due to the economic climate”, he added.
When asked about the possibility of an increase in rod licence prices, a spokesperson for the Environment Agency declined to comment on the subject.