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April 2009

MINUTES of the meeting held on Monday 20 April 2009 in the Barnstaple Civic Centre.

MEMBERS PRESENT T Pratt, Chairman (NDYC), R Graham (MoD, RM Instow), M Tucker (1716 Committee), T Alasdair Barclay (1716 Committee), P Hames (Northam Town Council), B Nicholls (N Devon Water Ski Club), J Kelly (RSPB (Exeter)), J Earnshaw (GAIA Trust), P Fronteras (Westleigh PC and MVS), S Brown (MVS), S Shambrook (MoD, RMB Chivenor), J Gillett (Natural England), M Roberts (Coastwise N Devon), R White (Devon Wildlife Trust), T Johns (Bideford Town Council), C Hassall (Rolle Canal), A Atkinson (N Devon Sea Anglers), P Siddall (Environment Agency).

OTHERS PRESENT J Breeds (By Invitation).


The Chairman welcomed all present who then introduced themselves and stated who they represented.

Apologies were received from: R Day (CPRE), R Butler (AONB), M Portman (MoD), M Ford (Braunton Countryside Centre). 


Acceptance of the Minutes of the Forum's meeting on 19 January 2009 was proposed seconded and agreed.

Acceptance of the Minutes of the Consultation and Planning Sub Committee meetings of 6 February, 6 March and 27 March was proposed, seconded, and agreed. The Chairman emphasised the importance of the work of this committee and appealed for new members.


a. Estuary Reports: 

Harbour Master. There was no report from the Bideford Harbour Master.

Dredging at Brunswick Wharf. There was no further information with regard to the situation at Brunswick Wharf. The Environment Agency was asked to follow this up.

The Hulk of the SEVERN SANDS. Considerable concern was expressed over the future of this hulk and the possibility of it being broken up in situ. (the rudder and propeller have already gone) The Environment Agency are monitoring the situation and will report back.

Churchfield Slip Warden. There has been a warden at Churcfield Slip since the beginning of April. There were reports of some jet skis causing annoyance at Instow. 

Motorbikes on Penhill Marsh. The Warden has warned the culprits. J Gillett (NE) agreed to monitor this.

Marine Awareness Officer. C Jones, the DWT Marine Awareness Officer, had completed her work in N Devon. All agreed that a letter of thanks would be appropriate. It was also agreed that this should include the Forum's concern that there would be no replacement. DWT explained that they would like to keep the post and were continuing to seek funding but currently could not afford it. Two volunteers were now operating independently but, while most welcome, this was not adequate or sustainable. This situation was linked to the lack of an Estuary Officer and the possibility of a number of bodies coming together to fund a post with wider responsibilities was discussed. The Chairman agreed to follow this up. 

b. North Devon UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve: 

Chairman of the Biosphere Reserve Partnership. There was no report from Dr Moser.

Biosphere Reserve Coordinator. There was no report from Mr Bell.

Core Area Report. Despite his post no longer being funded, J Breeds was present at the Chairman's invitation and gave the Core Area Report (copy attached). The members expressed their thanks for his work and it was suggested that, if he was willing, he should be co-opted onto the Forum under Section 2 of the constitution. This was proposed, seconded and unanimously agreed.

f. Braunton Burrows (brought forward):

A number of members expressed concern over the management of Braunton Burrows. This was now particularly worrying with the demise of the Warden's post as there would be no coordination of volunteers or educational activity. It was suggested that the continued existence of the Biosphere was at risk. Natural England could not fund the Warden's post but were seeking a local voluntary group to take on some of the responsibilities and agreed to provide the Core Report in future. The Chairman agreed to contact A Bell to establish the Biosphere Reserve's position and Christie Estates to seek their support in re-instating the post. 

c. N Devon AONB Partnership:

No Report was received as R Butler was ill.

d. Estuary Registration Scheme and Leaflet:

This is now being administered by G Berry of NDCCS.

e. Appledore Quay Wall:

Reports of the erection of scaffolding and the presence of cranes gave cause for concern as there had been no word from the contractors and council representatives had not been given any information. It was reported that the Appledore Residents Association were following this up. The Chairman agreed to ask the contractors for a statement.

g. Errosion on Northam Burrows:

A Barclay (1716 Committee) gave a summary of the current situation. Natural England were content with the proposal for work around the 8th tee but this would only be a short term solution. In the long term they believed the answer to be managed retreat but were waiting for the estuary survey in order to decide on what action was required. However, the funding for the work around the 8th tee had not been approved as there was a perception that it was solely for the benefit of the golf club rather than the wider area. The 1716 Committee would keep the Forum informed.

h. Devon Area Estuary Officer's Group:

A "Devon Marine Educator's Network" was being established with a North Devon Network being set up under the auspices of Coastwise. The Chairman has signed the Forum up to this.

i. Joint NDC/TDC Local Strategic Partnership Delivery Board:

The Chairman attended a meeting of this group on 19 March. The main issue was the setting up of themed groups with "Champions". The environment is one of these groups. Circulation of membership and proposals are awaited.

j. District Council Liaison: 

No District Council representatives were present.

k. Knapp House:

There was discussion concerning the Knapp House situation. The hole in the bank was filled some time ago but there had been no activity recently and revetment was required. There had also been fly tipping in the abandoned slip. The Environment Agency stated that they were actively involved in work to resolve these problems.


a. Shoreline Management Plan:

A detailed response has been submitted.

b. NutaberryDevelopment:

A response has been sent to the Council expressing concern over the flood prevention lagoons, tidal flaps, and material to be used to raise the ground above flood levels. The Environment Agency stated that these were similar to the concerns that they would be raising.

c. Pilton Conservation Area Draft:

A response has been sent supporting the extension of the area Southwards along the River Yeo.

d. Seven Brethren Bank Development:

All members of the P & C Committee had attended presentations on the proposed Seven Brethren Bank Development by DCC and NDC. They had a number of concerns particularly with regard to the proposed incinerator. These concerns were strongly supported by a number of members. However, the Forum members did not have enough information to make properly informed comment. After some discussion it was agreed that the Chairman would invite DCC to present their proposals to the Forum at the June meeting. Furthermore, in order to balance the discussion an appropriate speaker would be invited to propose an alternative view.

e. Fremington Cycleway:

The proposal for a cycleway from the main road down the old power station access road to the Tarka Trail was supported. 


The Co-opted Acting Honorary Secretary gave a statement on the need for an Honorary Secretary. He would not be available for the next meeting and, if no one came forward, a professional would have to be paid. If this situation persisted the Forum would quickly run out of money. 

The Chairman repeated a statement of his position the he would be unable to serve after the end of this year and asked members to consider volunteering or lobbying others they thought might be willing.

As agreed at the last meeting; a letter had been sent to DCC asking for financial support. However, in the present financial climate a positive response was unlikely. The action of Councilor Temperley in providing £1000 from his discretionary funding was therefore most welcome. The Chairman would write to express the Forum's gratitude.


No Urgent matters were brought forward.


Correspondence received would be posted on the Forum's website as appropriate.


The next meeting would open with presentations on the proposed Seven Brethren Incinerator from the DCC and an alternative view.


There was no other business.


20 July - Bideford 19 October - Barnstaple 18 January - Bideford