Anglers take their fight against rafts to court

FISHING beat owners on one of Scotland’s leading salmon rivers yesterday announced plans to take court action in a bid to resolve a long-running feud with white-water rafters. The dispute between anglers on the Upper Tay and commercial rafting companies has been raging for six years, following claims that the number of rafts going down-river is making it impossible for fishermen to enjoy their sport.

Before the Land Reform Act was implemented, there had been a voluntary agreement to restrict commercial rafting on the Upper Tay between Aberfeldy and Grandtully, but the rafting companies stopped abiding by the agreement.

Earlier this year, the riparian owners on the river failed in an attempt to persuade Perth and Kinross Council to ban white- water rafters.

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And yesterday, in the latest round in the bitter row, the landowners on the Upper Tay revealed they are taking court action against their local council to prevent the “relentless” activity of the rafters from destroying lucrative fishing beats.

They have issued a writ, asking a sheriff to enforce three consecutive raft-free days a week on their stretch of the Tay.

Angus Crow, chairman of Lower Grandtully Timeshares, said the decision for a legal route was taken with “extreme reluctance”. He said: “It is so sad that it has had to come to this. We have a shared interest in the river and have been working through the accepted channels to hopefully reach an agreement which allows both the rafting and fishing business to flourish.

“Tenants come once and never return, and one of Scotland’s heritage assets is being decimated.”

The beat owners are to ask a sheriff to enforce the raft-free days restriction recommended by Perth and Kinross Local Access Forum. A spokesman for the owners said: “The proprietors have been advised that they have no alternative but to go to court to seek enforcement.”