Anglers in Kent are celebrating the decision of Kent Wildlife Trust to allow angling to continue on their site at the Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve. Angling Trust CEO Jamie Cook and Head of Policy Martin Salter met with Bromley (Kent) & District Angling Society (BDAS) officers and Directors of Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT) on Wednesday to agree a way forward.
Mike Harris, Chairman of BDAS, welcomed the news saying:
“The collective support received from the wider local community, bird watchers, MPs, Otter Trust, Beaver Trust and especially the Angling Trust, has been greatly appreciated. The Angling Trust have provided much expertise and enabled the BDAS Committee to come to a collective initial agreement in principal with KWT. This in turn has opened the way forward for a meaningful and productive discussion for the future of angling on the Reserve.”
Following the meeting to explore options, this joint statement was issued:
Angling to be an important part of future plans for Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve
A meeting today (Wednesday, 24th February) between senior managers at Kent Wildlife Trust, Bromley (Kent) & District Angling Society and the Angling Trust agreed to produce a joint vision to incorporate angling into the future long term plans for Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
The meeting followed an initial decision by KWT to terminate the licence for the angling club who have been present on the site for over 70 years. Their continued presence on the reserve has been supported by the Sevenoaks bird watching group and the Beaver Trust.
Following a useful exchange of plans, KWT, BDAS and the Angling Trust have committed to working together to secure the long-term future of angling on the reserve in alignment with the wider plans to offer more of the community access to nature through the Sevenoaks site. The draft proposals from BDAS and the Angling Trust have been shown to align far more closely with the ambitions and vision of KWT for the site prompting an agreement to work up a joint document upon which a new licence can be drawn for the longer term involvement of BDAS to provide angling opportunities on the reserve.
Paul Hadaway, Director of Conservation at KWT, said:
“Angling is an important part of what we do at Sevenoaks and we want to see angling take a more active part in the visitor experience onsite to ensure more people can engage with nature. Our plans for wilding, including the reintroduction of beaver to the site, take it much closer to the original Harrison family vision for Sevenoaks and the support from BDAS in working with us to do this is welcome.”
Fiona White, Director of Engagement and Education at KWT, added:
“There is an urgent need to create a new visitor centre at Sevenoaks and to improve much of the infrastructure. I was pleased to see that the anglers’ vision for the site is very close to our own and clearly forms the basis for angling to play its part in connecting visitors from a diverse range of backgrounds with nature. KWT are committed to building a site which will create opportunities for everyone and to ensuring that people who wouldn’t otherwise visit the countryside have full access and a fulfilling experience.”
Dennis Puttock, Honorary Secretary of BDAS, said:
“We look forward to working closely with KWT in forging a long-term plan for the benefit of nature conservation, beaver reintroduction, angling and birdwatching on this historic wildlife site.”
Jamie Cook, CEO of the Angling Trust, added:
“We absolutely support KWT’s desire to improve facilities on this important site and the need for anglers to create space to allow these works to progress. Luckily there is ample room at Sevenoaks to accommodate multiple uses and with the goodwill shown today I’m confident that together we can create something fantastic down there with angling as an important connection with the natural world.”
Both sides agreed that their meeting had been productive and provided an opportunity to reset the relationship between KWT and BDAS. This will be reflected in a shared vision document which is to be drawn up over the coming weeks.