New Angling Trust Chairman Sir Charles Walker wasted no time last week in defending fishing in House of Commons debates, as he attacked Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust (NWT) for its anti-angling stance at Attenborough Nature Reserve.
The heated debate came about after an ongoing list of restrictions imposed by the NWT led to the cessation of Nottingham AA’s long-held lease agreement at the popular venue, putting the brakes on any sport from the end of last month.
Speaking in the House, 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.”
The comments were well received by both sides of the house, while Leader of the Commons Mark Spencer said that he was “disappointed to hear that the NWT is taking that approach to the angling community.”
He added: “Angling is one of the largest participation sports and anglers have a self-interest in making sure our rivers and fish are healthy.” Spencer said that he hoped NWT would reflect on its position, and that the matter would be pursued with MPs whose constituencies border the venue.
The Trust’s Chief Policy Advisor, Martin Salter, said: “It’s our job to get these issues raised in Parliament and we’re hopeful that, with the support of local politicians, common sense will prevail. One of the great advantages of having Sir Charles as our new chair is that he will always challenge those who want to ban or restrict angling.”