The Green Heart of Poringland


Fencing Project Complete

Poringland Lakes’ ambitious fencing project has been fully completed.  Volunteers have been busily making modifications to the access gates to ensure that they are 100% otter proof.

Now satisfied that the lakes are secure, fishery manager Mick Morley is turning his attention to the restocking programme.  Trustees have made £2,000 available to add to the stock, thereby fulfilling their promise that the lakes will return better than ever following the recent otter incursion.

Despite reservations that the 450 metres of fencing will be intrusive and spoil the landscape, by general consensus the outcome is better than anticipated.  Some preliminary planting has taken place to soften the visual impact and the final result is very pleasing.

The final cost is expected to be in the region of £14,000.

Fencing Work Progresses

Contractors moved onto the site last Wednesday to erect 450 metres of otter fencing.  While they had hoped to complete the work in four days, the project has taken longer than expected due to the challenging terrain.

Although some work still needs to be done, the heavy equipment has been removed from the site and contractors are happy for fishing to resume.

“Contractors will be on site at various times in the next few days” explained fishery manager Mick Morley “but they can work around anyone who is fishing.

“Noble is virtually finished leaving just the apron skirting and top brackets to be fitted around Duffield and Gudgeon.  There may be some minor disruption, so anglers are asked for their cooperation while construction work continues” added Morley.

“And please close the gates behind you!” smiled Mick.

Otter Attacks Continue

Otter attacks at Poringland Lakes continue.

A further five kills have been reported overnight (Sunday 24 February) as the determined predator(s) has moved from the fenced areas to the unguarded Noble lake.

Contractors are expected to complete the fencing by the coming weekend (Saturday 2 March) and it can’t come a moment too soon for fishery manager Mick Morley.

“The continued attacks justify the cost of installing the fencing” re-assured Morley.  “Had we not taken emergency action, we could have lost the entire fish stock.”

Overall, it is estimated at least two dozen good sized carp have been taken.  However, once the fencing is completed, these will be replaced and other stocks replenished and added to.

The issue of predation and restocking will be discussed at Sunday’s annual general meeting which takes place at Poringland Community Centre at 10am.

“We hope many of our regular anglers will attend and give us their views on restocking” added Morley.

Lakes Remain Closed

Poringland Lakes remain closed on weekdays until further notice while contractors finish installing 450 metres of fencing.

Although a considerable amount of work has been done already, contractors still have to fence and gate Noble as well as mounting restraining brackets and securing fence aprons in both Duffield and Gudgeon.

"It is possible that the work will be not be completed on Monday and may well stretch to Tuesday" said fishery manager Mick Morley. "As the contractors will be working simultaneously on all three lakes, we have no option but to keep the lakes closed.

“The trustees apologise for any inconvenience this may cause but the safety of visitors is our top priority” he added.

A further announcement will be made when the lakes become fully operational.

Fencing Contractors Make Good Progress

Despite difficult ground conditions, contractors installing new fencing around the lakes are making good progress.

Natural gravel and imported aggregate are proving testing for the heavy duty piling machine brought in especially for the job.  But Norfolk Stock Fencing’s managing director Matthew Copplestone is confident his team can overcome the challenging conditions.

Already the access gate to the main lakes is in place and special predator-proof netting is quickly stretching around Gudgeon.

The difficult terrain will mean the lakes will be out of commission on Thursday, Friday and probably Monday of next week but will be open as usual this weekend.

Further updates will be provided as the work progresses.

Treemendous Effort!

For the past two days, a team of tree surgeons have been working at the lakes, pollarding and cutting back dead or dying trees and shredding brash.  Much of the work has been in preparation for the installation of otter fencing.

By all accounts, volunteers have been most impressed by the three man team from BH Trees in Norwich.

“The lads worked incredibly hard and have done an amazing amount of work in such a short space of time” said lead trustee Paul Bonham.  “When we engaged BH Trees, we explained our limited budget but they have really gone the extra mile to ensure that all the work was done and the trees left in a safe condition.”

Lakes Hit by Killer Otter (illustrative photo)

Poringland Lakes has suffered a killer blow - a visiting otter that has already devoured several prime carp worth hundreds of pounds.

For the past fortnight, a juvenile otter has been regularly taking fish from Duffield lake and it appears trustees can do very little about it other than safeguard fish stock by encasing the lakes in fencing.

Otters are fully protected by the law.  It is illegal to kill or disturb an otter which could lead to large fines or even imprisonment.

Bailiffs have been attending the lakes overnight in an effort to identify whether the culprit is a mink or an otter.  A number of sightings have been made which support the view that an otter, or otters, are to blame for the fish loss.

As well as individual sightings, usually in the early hours of the morning, the illusive otter has now been captured on a special night-vision camera.  The video has been sent to the Angling Trust who confirmed that the animal is unquestionably an otter.

Predator Expert Warns – “There is only one solution”

One of the country's leading authorities on predation has been advising the Association on how best to deal with the otter problem.

Angling Trust’s fishery management advisor, Jake Devolie made the long journey from his Coventry home to visit the lakes and advise trustees on the best course of action.

After spending over an hour on site and attending an emergency meeting of trustees, the predation specialist strongly recommended fencing as “the only solution”.

He advised that all stillwater fisheries are at risk of being found by an otter at some time, even if the site is far from a major watercourse.  Otters often follow small steams and even dry ditches in search of feeding and resting sites.

Jake went on to explain that all unprotected stillwater fisheries are vulnerable to otter predation.  Small stillwaters, such as Poringland Lakes, provide a particularly easy supply of food.  In these circumstances an otter may spend a disproportionate amount of time on site.

Even more worrying is the suggestion that should an otter vacate a site, its place will soon be taken by another otter.  Also, if unchecked otters, have been known to completely denude stillwaters of entire fish stocks including small silverfish as well as specimen carp.

 Fencing – “The Last Resort”

Lakes trustees have agreed to construct a wire mesh fence round all three fishing lakes to protect valuable fish stocks worth tens of thousands of pounds.  At an emergency meeting, officials reluctantly took the decision "as a last resort" to safeguard the fishery.

The committee has engaged a specialist contractor to do the work which is expected to cost over £10,000.  Preparatory groundworks, landscaping and restocking is likely to push the final bill nearer to £15,000.

“We simply have no other option” said fishery manager Mick Morley.

"We are not certain if we have one of two otters. If we don't take urgent action they could wipe out the entire fishery which has often happened elsewhere.  As a conservation as well as a fishing organisation, we need to take a balanced view and safeguard the lakes' wildlife as well as the fishery. By doing selective fencing, we can do just that, continuing to provide a wildlife haven and at the same time protecting the fishery.

"We realise that fencing looks obtrusive and will do little to improve the lakes appearance but by careful planting we can soften the landscape in the hope of making the fence less obtrusive.

Work is expected to start in a matter of weeks.  In the meantime volunteers will continue to mount night-time patrols in an effort to minimise losses.

Otters Protected by Law

Otters are fully protected by the law.

Under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 you are breaking the law capture, kill, disturb or injure otters; damage or destroy a breeding or resting place; obstruct access to their resting or sheltering places; possess, sell, control or transport live or dead otters, or parts of otters.

If found guilty, offenders could get a fine of £5,000 and up to six months in prison.

Work Starts on Clearing Site

Within hours of making the decision to install an otter fence, volunteers were busily cutting back scrub and felling dead trees to make way for 450 metres of fencing.

Otter Warning

Bailiffs at Poringland Lakes have been alerted to a worrying incident that occurred in the early hours of this morning (Friday 13 July). 

At one o’clock in the morning, a local resident who lives close to the Royal Oak pub, was disturbed by a commotion in his garden.  On getting up to investigate, he discovered two fully grown otters and a  pup rampaging in his koi carp pond. 

Several fish were taken before he managed to shoo the otters away.  The site is only a few hundred yards from Poringland Lakes. 

Otters are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.  It is against the law to capture, kill, disturb or injure otters.Killing an otter is punishable by a £5,000 fine or six months in prison. 

Fishery manager Mick Morley was very concerned to hear the news. 

“It’s a fine balance between otter conservation and protecting our valuable fish stocks” he said.  “The only way to do this is by fencing the lakes which would be extremely expensive and detract from the natural appearance of the site” he added.              

Meanwhile officials are keeping their fingers crossed that otters do not visit the lakes but given the close location to the latest incident, some people think an otter attack is almost inevitable.