Anglers accused of ‘environmental vandalism’

WORK carried out by Selkirk Angling Association on a river bank was described as “environmental vandalism”, writes Sally Gillespie.

Anglers have cleared a path by the Ettrick Water, part of which is on Howden Farm, to the west of Selkirk.

But one local environmentalist is upset by their action, saying the area was alive with wildlife.

“They have taken out gorse bushes and taken down trees and limbs off trees and put a path in.

“I spoke to the farmer and he said he’d given them permission to take down a few branches.

“This is enviromental destruction. I cannot believe what they have done: to me it is just environmental vandalism.”

As a tributary of the River Tweed, Ettrick Water has national site of special scientific interest (SSSI) protection as well as European special area of conservation (SAC) protection.

The concerned local also warned that the clearance work would have destabilised the banking: “If they go on that soil in a 4x4 they are going to cause problems.”

Scottish Natural Heritage’s operations officer, Richard Kehoe, based at Galashiels, said: “We don’t know anything at the moment. There could be implications for SSSI or SAC features. Until I have had a look it is very difficult to establish what the situation is.”

The Howden farmer owns part of the land which has been altered by the riverside, but not all of it.

Howden Farm’s Lesley White, who saw the path on Wednesday, said: “The angling club asked if they could cut back a few of the overhanging branches because they were catching their lines, but they haven’t done that, they have put a pathway in.

“We were quite horrified. This wasn’t what they said they would do at all. We are conscious of wildlife and have wetland areas and woodland, and there is a heron colony close to the area.”

An angling club member said treasurer David Little organised the path, but was unavailable for comment because he was on holiday.