OTTERS and anglers are locked in a territorial battle after a plan was revealed to turn the River Weaver into a ‘home for Tarka and Ratty’.

Northwich Anglers Association fears for its future if part of the Weaver between Northwich and Winsford is turned into an otter park.

Mark Leathwood, head bailiff for Northwich Anglers Association, said: “Some fishing clubs have been forced to close or to slash their fees and there are wider implications for the tackle trade and for tourism.

“Anglers simply will not travel or pay to fish waters which have had their fish stocks plundered by otters.

“The proposal to create new habitat to encourage otters to populate the lower Weaver valley, including the area between Winsford and Northwich, could spell disaster for Northwich Anglers Association and for angling clubs throughout Cheshire.”

The Weaver Valley Management Board has proposed the park in the wake of the Environment Agency’s otter habitat survey and the Water Vole Project.

The survey shows that otters move freely in the river as far as Winsford and signs of them have also been found at Northwich.

The proposal is to create new habitat for the animals, including backwaters for fish breeding, fish passes from meanders to the main river and wetland habitat.

Mark said otters could spread to fisheries containing priceless fish.

“In particular one of our fisheries, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, holds carp which have grown to weights in excess of 40lbs with many others now topping the 30lbs mark,” he said.

“Some of the fish are believed to have been in residence now for around 60 years and the venue in question is considered to be one of the most important in the north of England.

“We know that otters attack the largest, slower moving fish first.

“Often these specimens are badly mauled and left to die a slow and distressing death.”

Mark said thousands of pounds had been spent developing and stocking three new still waters with a view to encouraging more people of all ages and abilities into angling.

“It has taken generations, yet all of this could be wiped out at a stroke,” he said.

For more information, including how to object to the proposals, visit