The UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has criticised a public authority in Northern Ireland which has blocked access to wildfowling on Lough Foyle without consultation.
Translink, the company responsible for the Northern Ireland Railway network, has installed a seven foot high steel fence which prevents access over a railway crossing point that has been used for generations to access to wildfowling and other recreational activities on the foreshore.
Speaking during a visit to the site, BASC NI director Tommy Mayne said:
“Shooting is a great way of getting out into the countryside and being active which improves both physical and mental wellbeing. As a public authority with a statutory duty to consult on such matters, it is bitterly disappointing that Translink not only failed to consult with BASC, they also failed to consult with Lough Foyle Wildfowlers’ Association (LFWA) the largest wildfowling club in Northern Ireland.
“Translink officials met with BASC and Trevor Clarke (MLA) chair of the NI Assembly’s Regional Development Committee at Stormont back in November 2015, when officials gave us an assurance that they would work to find a solution to the problem. Clearly that has not happened.
Translink have conveniently disregarded the fact that the club owns land on the foreshore side of the railway line. By erecting the fence at the Faughanvale crossing, Translink have not only prevented club members, including wheelchair users, from accessing the land that they own, but also other land where the club leases the shooting rights. During the last three weeks BASC has twice asked Translink for a copy of their complaints procedure without result.
“Translink have left the Lough Foyle Wildfowlers with no alternative but to engage directly with the Northern Ireland Ombudsman to lodge a formal complaint regarding their behaviour which is well below the standard expected of a public authority.”
BASC understands that Translink also failed to consult with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council prior to blocking access to the railway crossing.