Findhorn Bay wildfowlers are being urged to sign up to a voluntary permit system drawn up by local mediators.
The call by senior councillors is in advance of a meeting next week when the issue of shooting on the nature reserve will be debated. Read the committee report here
Conflict between the wildfowlers and the recently-formed Friends of Findhorn Bay emerged in December 2015, when a petition was lodged with the council calling for a total ban on geese shooting and the introduction of a new byelaw. This was followed by a petition from the pro-wildfowling lobby.
Councillors deferred any decision on a byelaw and called on the parties to resolve the issue through mediation.
After a series of mediation meetings a permit system was devised by the Findhorn Bay Local Nature Reserve sub-committee. This voluntary system allowed shooting during the season, but restricted the number of permitted guns, shots, areas for shooting and reduced the number of days in the week for shooting to five.
At next week’s meeting of the Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee, councillors will be asked to further defer the hearing of petitions from both sides until the end of the season in February 2018, thereafter to assess the voluntary system’s effectiveness.
Yesterday leader of Moray Council, Forres Cllr George Alexander, and the chair of Moray Council’s Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr John Cowe, said that all involved should work towards making to the voluntary system work.
Cllr Alexander said: “The introduction of a byelaw is the very last resort for the council; it is a lengthy, expensive legal process that could also incur significant costs to enforce so there is no guarantee that members would agree to scarce resources being used in this way, given the host of competing priorities the council faces.
“It’s in everyone’s best interests to ensure this voluntary system works; if the council did decide to promote a byelaw without any consensus having been achieved, inevitably one or more of the parties involved would feel that their views had not been supported."
The report to committee on September 5 sets out the costs and time required for a byelaw, running into tens of thousands of pounds.
Cllr Cowe said: “In any conflict there has to be a compromise if we are to reach a resolution, which can surely be achieved without resorting to law.
“What’s proposed is a perfectly reasonable and workable system if everyone gets behind it. But if the Council agrees to go down the byelaw route – and that’s a big ‘if’ as we’re not obliged to - that will inevitably involve a public inquiry at considerable cost to the council and taxpayer.”
Moray Council area stretches from Tomintoul in the south to the shores of the Moray Firth, from Keith in the east to Forres in the west. The council and its 4,500 employees respond to the needs of 95,510 residents in this beautiful part of Scotland, which nestles between Aberdeenshire and the Highlands.
Famous for its colony of dolphins, fabulous beaches and more malt whisky distilleries than any where else in Scotland, Moray is a thriving area and a great place to live.
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