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Jetski Mtg Jun 2003

TAW TORRIDGE ESTUARY FORUM / N.D.COAST AND COUNTRYSIDE SERVICE

 

JET SKIS in the TAW TORRIDGE ESTUARY.

 

Meeting in Taw Room, Civic Centre, Barnstaple – Mon. 9th June, 2003 – 7.00pm.

 

PRESENT: Mr.A.Bell, Chairman, (NDC&CS), Mrs.R.Day,(TTE Forum), Mr.A.Eastman, (TDC. Northam TC.),  Mr.J.Hadfield,(Bideford T.C.), Mr.PBWaters,  Mr.J.Bell, (Northam TC.), Mr.T.Pratt, (NDYC.), Mr.T.Smale, Chief Executive,  Mrs. P.Ferguson, (TDC), Mr.A.Windsor, (Barnstaple TC) Mr.J.Turner,(NDDC.), Mr.R.Dyer, Mr.H.O.Slade, (Braunton Marsh Inspectors). Mr.N.Welch, (Boatowner), Mr.T.Donovan, (Mullacott Marine), Mr.C.Squire, Mr.T.Squire, (NDWaterski Club), Mr.A.Black, Mr.M.S.Cawthorne, Mr.S.Goodfellow, (Braunton Jetskiers),  Ms.J.Watts, Mr.J.Knight, Mr.A.Williams, Mr.S.Easton, Mr.C.Beer, (Barnstaple Jetskiers). A Humphris, TTEF. Hon.Sec.

 

1.APOLOGIES: Mr.J.Sunderland, Chief Executive NDDC. Mr.J.Brooks,(NDWaterski Club), Mr.J.Hartnoll,(Br.Marsh Commissioners), Mrs.M.Shapland,(Braunton P.C.).

 

2.INTRODUCTION:   Andy Bell, as Chairman of the Meeting, introduced himself and then asked representatives present to introduce themselves and the organisations they represented. He then asked Rose Day to explain why the Taw Torridge Estuary Forum had called the meeting.

Rose Day thanked everyone for responding to the invitation to attend the meeting. She went on to introduce herself as the Chairman of the Taw Torridge Estuary Forum and explained that both North Devon District Council and Torridge District Council, to act as an independent voice for the Estuary, established the Forum, in 1980. The Forum now comprises 31 member organisations, made up of the parish and town councils bordering the estuary, the sporting and recreational clubs and organisations which use the estuary, the nature conservation and environmental organisations concerned  with the estuary, the commercial fisherman, the Ministry of Defence, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, all of which have an interest in, and influence on, the estuary. The Forum meets 4 times a year, twice in Barnstaple and twice in Bideford.

In December 1993, the Consultants W.S.Atkins submitted to the two District Councils the First Taw Torridge Estuary Management Plan. This plan enshrined a zoning system for the estuary, which tried to ensure that there were no conflicts of interest between estuary users. As a result of this plan, an estuary officer was appointed in 1995. In the meantime, jet skiing had begun in the estuary, and the update of this plan, effected by the new Estuary Manager and the Taw Torridge Estuary Forum, included a zone for jet skiers at Airey Point.

The Estuary Management Plan has worked well with regard to all estuary users, with the exception of the jetskiers. For this reason, all the various landowners around the estuary have adopted different strategies towards jet skiers, resulting in a confusing and unenforceable policy towards this sport. She concluded by explaining that the reason for the meeting was to try and resolve this conflict.

 

3. THE PRESENT POSTION: Andy Bell made clear what the remit of the meeting was. He pointed out that members present could not make major policy decisions on behalf of the Authorities concerned-but they could explore and discuss the issues and then recommendations would be taken forward from the meeting for the appropriate authorities to consider.   

Briefing Notes had been sent out to all invitees, copies of which were available at the meeting.

Andy Bell giving a short presentation to explain the present position made reference to some of the points from the briefing notes. He also asked that any points not covered by the notes would be added by the meeting so that agreed policies could be put forward to Parish Councils, District Councils and slipway owners. It could then be agreed what actions could then be implemented in the short term and the long term.

He explained that there was a public right of navigation on the estuary but the status of jet skis as a craft or a boat, was unclear. This means that some byelaws are difficult to apply to jet skis. In the estuary there is only one statutory speed limit and that is in the Port of Bideford.

4. CODE of CONDUCT: A Voluntary Code of Conduct for all watercraft was produced and the TT Estuary Management Plan, which was adopted by the local authorities, recommended the use of this Voluntary Code of Conduct. This sets out the best and safest practice for Leisure Craft Users, in the absence of suitable byelaws.

5. ACCESS ISSUES: In recent times TDC. has banned the launching at their slipways in Bideford and Appledore.

Zoning was agreed at a meeting of all water users and a map produced displaying the different zones. As well as the zoning a voluntary 6-knot speed limit was set in the estuary. Following another meeting jet skiers were invited to form a club amongst themselves and be recognised by the Authority. The skiers replied that as slips were being made unavailable, there were few skiers and therefore no club. Also the Slipway Warden at Appledore was no longer employed.

It was suggested by the Braunton Skiers that Airey Point was ideal for jet skiers as they did not interfere with any other estuary user. Mr. Black also pointed out that jet skis were being further developed every year and craft are not as noisy as they once were.

6. ENFORCEMENT ISSUES:  Mr. Eastman reported that following several incidents at Appledore, jetskis were banned from launching there. He suggested that a few miscreants spoilt it for all. Commenting on the present situation, the Barnstaple jet skiers indicated that holidaymakers come from away and are unaware of local regulations. Local jet skiers cannot discipline their behaviour, in fact they themselves felt threatened. However new local jet skiers are informed of the rules before they begin taking part in the sport.

Mr. Squire asked if jet skiers had insurance cover. He felt it should be a compulsory part of launching.

Tony Pratt pointed out that as a member of NDYC, he had to be a member of the club and carry insurance before he could sail his boat – shouldn’t jet skiers have the same system. It was obvious that a self-regulatory system by means of a club was needed. In answer to the suggestion that they could not contain problem groups, it was pointed out who is better to police the jet skiers than other jet skiers..

The Braunton Marsh Inspectors asked what the jet skiers wanted. The Braunton  jet skiers replied that Airey Point was ideal as were the launching sites nearby as they lived there. They were also in favour of recognition as a club. The  Braunton Marsh Inspectors went on to ask if all the water users present at the meeting were prepared to join together as one club. All present agreed that they were. The Marsh Inspectors added that launching of jet skis was not a problem but their activities had to be policed.

7. THE WAY FORWARD: Trevor Smale pointed out that if the water users  really wanted this to work, self-regulation was the only way forward. They needed to join together as a club, to meet the Parish Councils etc. and build confidence within the local community. Then, with all points considered they could move on, but self-regulation was the critical point.

Rose Day suggested that there should be some sort of registration number and club logo attached to local craft so that they could be immediately identified on the water, this should be on all craft including the new Zap cats. 3rd. Party Insurance could be a requirement of registration.

After further discussions various ideas and suggestions came forward. The licensing issue was discussed and the possibility of the Council controlling the licence was discussed.

IN CONCLUSION: Andy Bell drew all the points together, and stated that all were happy with zoning. The skiers were looking for 2 launching sites, one on either side of the estuary, if possible, with agreement dependent upon decisions of local organisations and local authorities.. It was hoped to form a club of all motorised water users and for the jet skiers, especially, to have a representative on the Taw Torridge Estuary Forum.

Rose Day said that she was delighted with the consensus of opinion that had been expressed throughout the meeting. She reminded the meeting, however that it was now June and some plan was needed for this summer season.

The various Councillors present were to report back to their councils, and pass on the confident message from the meeting.

The skiers thanked the meeting for the opportunity to put their point of view and they promised to progress with the formation of a water users club.

In closing the meeting the Chairman, Andy Bell, thanked people for their attendance and willingness to make progress with this issue.

There will be another Meeting in 6 months time.

Suggested date MONDAY, 26th. JANUARY, 2004. at THE CIVIC CENTRE, BARNSTAPLE.

 

 

The Meeting closed at 8.30p.m.

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