Angling: Fracking concerns addressed by Angling Trust

Barton Moss fracking site, Greater Manchester.

Barton Moss fracking site, Greater Manchester.

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ONE of the advantages of being a member of the Angling Trust is that twice a year they send us a copy of their magazine which is aptly named The Angler.

It is always packed with important facts and information and is free to all members. I have said many times in the past that this magazine is better value and more informative than some of the monthlies which are costing me around the £4 mark.

The latest edition answers a lot of questions which are worrying anglers at the moment, and top of the list is the Government proposal on fracking in this country which I did mention fleetingly in a recent article.

For the uninitiated, this is a process of extracting gas from shale (a type of rock) which is found hundreds of feet down in the ground.

Other countries (I believe mainly America) have been using this method very successfully for many years.

The main benefit is that it has bought the price of gas down considerably for users and our Government seems keen to develop the same system over here.

But, it is, as yet, untried and any failings could result in serious consequences for the environment.

America is a huge country and most of the operations there have been on wide open spaces, such as deserts. Over here, many of us value our green fields and countryside and wish to protect that at all costs.

Several wildlife and countryside trusts, who are supported by MPs of the three major parties, have launched a group which has compiled a report containing recommendations they feel should be adhered to strictly by all prospective drillers for shale. They are:

1. Avoid sensitive areas for wildlife and water resources by creating shale gas extraction exclusion zones.

2. Make environmental impact assessments mandatory for shale gas extraction proposals.

3. Require shale extraction companies to pay for a world-class regulatory regime.

4. Prevent taxpayers from bearing the costs of any accidental pollution.

5. Require all hydraulic fracturing to operate under a groundwater permit.

6. Ensure full transparency of the shale gas industry and its environmental impact.

7. Ensure monitoring and testing of shale gas operations is rigorous and transparent.

Another issue which is highlighted in the latest edition is that of bird predation such as cormorants and goosanders, on our fish stocks.

It has been estimated by some surveys that these birds are eating around 1,000 tonnes of fish each winter.

The Trust have been campaigning for over three years for a change in the current licensing system which governs control of the birds as there are strict regulations on the numbers which can be culled.

But this blockage has not been lifted so the Trust are set to employ three fishery management advisors who will advise fishery owners and clubs on how to reduce predation.

The advisors are also there to help with the paperwork when applying for licences etc.

A bit of good news to finish with. Just call the Angling Trust on 0846 7700616 and, until stocks run out, they will send you a copy of the excellent magazine, free of charge.

Showing his dad how to catch Knotford tench is eight-year-old Harry Hinchcliffe of Bingley.

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