Floating a controversial proposal

The River Tweed is far more than just a proud, historical jewel-in-the-crown feature of our heritage – it’s a major player in the economic well-being of the Borders and its north Northumberland neighbour.

So when a proposal so fundamental as scrapping the River Tweed Commission surfaces (see pages 52 and 53), extensive consultation and consideration must follow before any final decision is taken.

For more than two centuries, this cross-border, self-financing elected body has run the Tweed fisheries. But now its very existence has been placed in doubt, courtesy of the Scottish Government-commissioned Wild Fisheries Review, which has recommended replacement by a Fisheries Management Organisation (FMO).

If this was to go-ahead, the prospect of the £750,000 raised annually from beat owners going to other, less successful fisheries would rear its head.

And, as ex-commission chairman Andrew Douglas Home has pointed out, those 20 per cent of Tweed fishery owners in England would have no vote in electing what he has dubbed BCG (Big Central Government).

The debate which will surely follow during the ensuing weeks and months cannot be allowed to appear to degenerate into a struggle between Borders landed gentry and BCG – this issue is far too important for that scenario.

In economic terms, it could be a case of sink or swim for businesses and jobs in this region.