Pool will open to anglers
FISHING will be allowed at a nature reserve after councillors rubber-stamped controversial plans.
Newcastle Borough Council's cabinet has given the go-ahead for 'managed' angling to be introduced at Bateswood Local Nature Reserve, in Halmerend.
The ruling comes despite opponents claiming angling will disturb birds and other wildlife at the site.
The council claims it would be impossible to prevent the illegal fishing which already happens at the reserve, and that the only way forward was to allow a responsible fishing club to oversee angling at the pool.
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Councillor George Cairns, who had backed the plans, said: "I'm glad the cabinet has backed the proposals, which will benefit the people of the community.
"We know fishing takes place there illegally with people coming from all over the country, and they camp and leave the area in a mess when they go.
"We want to protect the wildlife at the site and certainly don't want to jeopardise it, and by having a club running the fishing at the reserve, it means it will be well preserved and look after.
"Because they are running the facility, it will be in their interests to look after it and tidy up and equipment which is left behind."
Proposals for a new bridle route were rejected because of health and safety concerns.
Halmerend Wildlife Trust opposed both developments.
The charity had claimed parties of anglers from as far away as Liverpool already camp at the nature reserve and illegally dump catfish into the pool.
They also claimed that the RSPCA was recently called out to the pool to treat a swan which had two feet of fishing line wrapped around its beak.
Trust chairman Ike Williams said: "We are disappointed that the borough council have done this.
"Our belief is that this area was designated as a nature reserve, not as a place for angling or horse riding.
"It was created after the people in the area had to put up with all the aggravation of the open cast mining.
"The nature reserve was supposed to be somewhere where people could go and enjoy nature in the peace and quiet.
"But now it appears that other people are only interested in their own activities.
"I am glad that the council has stopped the new bridle path though."