Councillors to consider response to Findhorn dispute

Councillors will consider arguments tomorrow over shooting around Findhorn Bay

MORAY COUNCILLORS WILL be asked to consider a “proportionate response” to concerns being raised over wildfowling in Findhorn.

Following months of protests and petitions, the matter will go before members of the economic development and infrastructure tomorrow, when Councillors have the opportunity to consider a petition put forward by Lisa Mead on behalf of ‘Friends of Findhorn Bay’.

The petition claims to have been signed by 800 “concerned and distressed residents of Kinloss, Findhorn and Forres who want the shooting of wild geese and ducks on Findhorn Bay to stop”.

Councillors will be reminded that there have been requests in the past to introduce by-laws that would regulate wildfowling in Findhorn through the introduction of a permit system, however, these were rejected after reports had been put to the former environmental services committee in 2004 and 2006.

Two ‘conflicting’ requests are now being put to the local authority, one from Lisa Mead through the petitions process that requests an outright ban, while the other is from the Findhorn Bay Local Nature Reserve management committee that seeks to regulate the activity through a permit system.

Councillors have the option on Tuesday to direct the petition to a full hearing, reject it outright, instruct an immediate action or pass it to a relevant director or chairperson for investigation.

Steven Cooper, who is head of direct services, will point members to a similar action elsewhere in Scotland, saying: “Dumfries and Galloway Council are currently undertaking a review of their wildfowling byelaws which they estimate will cost a minimum of £12,000 and up to £32,000 if a public enquiry is required.

“In addition to these costs, if bye-laws were approved, there would be ongoing management, administration and enforcement costs. There is currently no budget for this and the amount of work required is beyond the capacity of existing staff.”

Mr Cooper concludes: It is clear that there is a concern arising from the petition regarding the shooting of wild fowl in the Findhorn nature reserve. However, these views will not be consistent varying from a complete ban, control of shooting through to retaining the current practice.

“Consideration should be given to a proportionate response to these concerns given the staff resource implication and costs for progressing this to a full hearing and ultimately to creating a byelaw to ban or control shooting in this area.”