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Watton lake may have to be fenced to protect its fish stocks

Watton Town Focus - Loch Neaton. Picture by: Matthew Usher.

Watton Town Focus - Loch Neaton. Picture by: Matthew Usher.

Archant © 2011; 01603 772434

Custodians of a popular beauty spot are considering invasive and potentially expensive measures to guarantee its future.

The Loch Neaton Management Committee, which manages the fishing lake in Watton, has seen revenues fall over the past year as well as acts of vandalism and illegal fishing.

At its AGM on Monday the committee agreed drastic measures were needed to secure the future of the loch as a fishing destination and an amenity for residents.

Chairman Tony Watson said: “We are looking for volunteers to help. There is such a lot of work to be done down there.”

Over the past year the committee’s income from fishing tickets has fallen significantly, and there are also concerns about decreasing fish stocks due to illegal fishing.

It was suggested that the best way to ensure better security at the loch would be to put up a fence separating the body of water from its upper paths, to allow public access to the site while protecting the loch.

This idea was supported by Watton town councillor Peter Bishop. He said: “If you cannot prevent people who are just going to take the fish out and not pay, you have a choice to make. The only viable alternative is to fence it off.”

He added: “I understand fencing does not look pretty, but if you do not do that you are going to end up with no fish in the lake and then you might as well fill it in.”

Town councillor Margaret Holmes suggested the committee apply to Breckland Council and other bodies for funding towards the project.

It recently received a grant of £500 from Watton Town Council which has gone towards the repair of its wooden walkways. Some of the overgrown vegetation has been removed and volunteers have also collected more than 10 sacks of rubbish from the site.

However, the committee is appealing for volunteers to help with further maintenance at the loch including hedge cutting, shrub pruning and strimming – work which could cost up to £1,400 to complete.

With Mr Watson due to stand down as chairman next year and the post of secretary currently vacant, the committee is appealing for members as well as volunteers.

Anyone interested should contact heather_watson1@sky.com

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