Anglers and rowers on a potential collision course

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officials of the Leeds Angling Club were left both surprised and a little shocked when they heard the news last week that a £1m boathouse is to be built on the banks of the River Aire at Stourton.

Work is expected to start before the end of this month.

The project will be funded by the Leeds University Union, Leeds University, Leeds Rowing Club and Sport England.

There will be storage space for around 50 boats, changing and training rooms and a large car park.

The angling club have, for many years, rented the fishing rights on both the Aire and the nearby Aire and Calder Canal from the old British Waterways, paying out a considerable amount of money in the process.

What is more annoying is that the officials of the angling club regularly attend meetings with the Environment Agency and the subject of the new boathouse does not appear to have been mentioned to them as far as they are aware.

Another point, planning applications are frequently printed in this newspaper and I always read them thoroughly but I can’t remember seeing one about this development.

So why was the fishing club not informed of the developments?

Both the EA and the Leeds club have spent a lot of time and money in converting what was once an open sewer into a very pleasant fishery with thousands of fish being stocked into it.

But to what ends as it has been proved many times that the two sports – rowing and angling – don’t sit well together. It is like asking the Leeds Rhinos rugby league team and football club Leeds United to play their games on the same pitch at the same time.

Angling requires peace and tranquillity and that cannot happen with boats and canoes ploughing through the water every few minutes.

I would imagine that the rowers would be better off on the canal where the water is much more tranquil and not prone to flooding, leaving the river to the canoeists where they would be more used to the faster moving water.

They could also take advantage of the work which is being done on the nearby weir where thousands of pounds is to be spent on repair work and the construction of a fish pass which again will create faster moving water which they prefer.

Once the project gets up and running we then come to the question of any charges.

Will the boaters be paying BWB or EA for the use of the waters, as do the anglers?

On reflection I think that the officials from both sides should get their heads together around a table and thrash out some ground rules otherwise I can foresee the same situation that took place on the River Dearne a couple of years ago.

A local fishing club cleaned the place up and removed obstructions from the river and bankside and created a lovely fishery.

They paid substantial rent for over 20 years, then suddenly found canoes on the river which forced them off.

The two sports just could not compete as one was destroying the other.

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