COUNCILLORS WILL EXPLORE a compromise position put forward by a Forres independent councillor in an effort to solve the dispute over wildfowling in Findhorn Bay.
The council’s economic development and infrastructure services committee was presented with a petition signed by more than 800 local people on Tuesday that calls for a complete ban on wildfowling in the bay, which is part of a designated nature reserve.
However, they were also informed of a second and as yet unvalidated petition in support of shooting of Geese and Ducks during the six-month season starting in September each year.
One of the main concerns of those objecting was that shooting was taking place in close proximity to residential areas, in particular alongside Kinloss village – and that people living in the area were suffering increasing disturbance from indiscriminate shooting and noise.
Local councillor Anne Skene, while not a member of the committee but allowed to address her fellow councillors, said the issue of shooting in the bay was an “emotive one and had become highly charged”.
Councillor Skene suggested that an existing voluntary ‘no shoot’ area in the north part of Findhorn Bay could be extended to include the south-east corner, where the proximity of wildfowlers to residential properties was causing most conflict.
She added that such a solution represented a good compromise that would reduce noise disturbance and eliminate the need for either a permit system for wildfowlers or an outright ban.
The committee agreed to adopt Councillor Skene’s compromise as the basis for discussions with all interested parties with a view to achieving a solution. Further consideration will now be given to both petitions, the views of local members and those of MSP’s who had taken a particular interest.
Last night Richard Lochhead MSP welcomed the decision by the local authority to further investigate the issue. He said: “I welcome the Council Committee’s unanimous decision to remit the wildfowling issue to the Chair, Director and local Councillors to explore the petitions put forward by campaigners.
“It is key that options are investigated and I understand that this will include looking into byelaw options and existing legislation.
“From the significant correspondence I have received on this issue from the two campaign groups, Friends of Findhorn Bay and the Findhorn Bay Nature Reserve Management Committee, as well as numerous members of the public, I know that this move will be widely welcomed and I look forward to hearing how things progress.”
The move was also welcomed by Forres councillor Aaron McLean: “The decision by the committee recognises the strength of feeling on both sides of this debate and I hope that a solution can be found.
“I asked particularly that we get information on the way controls on wildfowling have operated in other areas, that we get information on existing relevant legislation such as shotgun licensing regulations and that we get information on the costs of implementing and enforcing any byelaws should that be necessary.
“I am pleased that this issue will be looked into further by the chair and the 4 local ward members, including myself. I would also commend the lead petitioner, Lisa Mead, in agreeing to look into various options to alleviate the current situation which is untenable for residents of Kinloss and Findhorn.”