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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Local Heroes

Ken Reid, the Fisheries Development Officer from the River Dee Board, sent us this account of how a community can come together to help improve their local waterways to benefit everyone who uses them - including anglers! 

'Following on from an organised river bank clean up in May, when local Police Officer Mike Whyte organised a group of residents from Banchory to assist with an afternoons work tidying up the river bank. It was decided to do a subsequent clear up later in the summer. PC Whyte organised another afternoon’s work for volunteers on Sunday and I went along to participate again. I was really thrilled to see 8 young men from Banchory put themselves forward to participate with the clear up. Carol Douglas, Community Learning Worker, had persuaded them to help out and she advised, ’ All 8 of the young men are members of the Banchory Skate Park Development Group (coordinated by me) and their ultimate aim is to have a new skate park built in the village. In the meantime they are taking up any opportunity to get more involved in volunteering work that enables them to contribute to their community. Their efforts can contribute to their completion of an MV Award Certificate and the volunteering part of their D of E award.’
The assembled group of helpers with the 10 refuse sacks of rubbish collected - mostly broken glass.
Police Officer Mike Whyte had again sourced litter pickers, refuse bags, safety gloves for the tidy up and provided a thorough risk assessment to the volunteers. We then proceeded to the River Bank at Banchory Bridge and walked upstream picking up litter for the next few hours. I have to admit to being quite distressed and shocked at seeing the amount of broken glass on the river bank where people have been discarding their empty beer bottles. The amount encountered was really hazardous to anglers, walkers, pets and of course our native wildlife. Anyone could unwittingly slip on the river bank and land on broken bottles and shards of razor sharp glass. The land owners could be faced with demands for compensation if someone did have a nasty accident. I also thought that an animal like an otter or a family pet would have absolutely no chance of avoiding injury if it was traversing the river bank under the cover of darkness. Our visiting anglers who enjoy fishing the river in the Banchory area, and who contribute significantly to the local economy are meticulous about removing their litter from the countryside and putting their rubbish in their rucksacks etc. They just cannot understand why people can be so thoughtless about leaving such hazardous debris lying around on our river bank. I just wish people would stop and think before smashing beer bottles on the river bank if they really need to leave such a hazardous amount of waste lying around. If they can take beer bottles to the river bank, then when they have consumed the contents and the bottles are empty they can easily take them away and deposit these in the many rubbish receptacles provided in Banchory
Anyway the local heroes from the skate park worked diligently and carefully, removing the dangerous debris from the river bank, and were a delight to work with. I thank them for giving so generously of their time and I do hope the local people get behind this group of fine upstanding young men and help them get a skate park in the village. P.C Whyte is to be applauded for his initiatives in trying to engage constructively with the local youths from Banchory. The team in the river office have a close working relationship with the local police force and officers like Mike Whyte deserve recognition, respect and all our thanks for working diligently in trying to deliver a nicer, safer community for us all to enjoy.'

Ken Reid, Fisheries Development Officer, River Dee Board

The guys look like they done a great job! We as anglers have a responsibility to look after our waterways, keep them litter free, and maintain the good name we have as conservationists and custodians of our environment. We urge all GAC customers to spend just five minutes of your session picking up any litter you can find around your swim and bin it properly - regardless of who left it there! Remember to cut any waste fishing line into short lengths that wildlife won't get tangled up in. It's the usual case of the minority giving the majority a bad name, but the anti-angling lobby, the press and the general public don't distinguish between responsible and irresponsible anglers - the finger is pointed at us all!

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