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January 2008

MINUTES for the Annual General Meeting held on Monday 21st January 2008 at Bideford Town Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Mrs. R. Day, Chairman, (CPRE, Instow PC), Mr. T. Pratt, Vice-Chairman, (NDYC), Mrs. W. Dale, (RNLI), Mr. S. Shambrook, (RMB Chivenor), Mr. C. Hassall, (Rolle Canal Soc.), Cllr. T. Johns, (Bideford TC), Mr. R. Harwood, Mr. S. Corbett, (EA), Ms. C. Jones, (DWT), Mr. D. Graham, (Royal Marines, Instow), Mr. J. Hartnoll, (Marsh Inspector), Mr. R. Butler, (UKMAB), Mr. S. Brown, (MVS), Ms. R. Ackerman, (AONB), Mr. J. Breeds MBE, (Br. Burrows Education Warden), Cllr. P. Hames, (Northam TC), Capt. P. Fronteras, (Westleigh PC), Mr. A. Atkinson, (Appledore Sea Anglers), Mrs. A. Humphris, Hon Sec.

APOLOGIES for ABSENCE: Mr. L. Oldham, (ND Wildfowlers), Lt. Col. M. Portman, (MOD), Mr. M. Davies, (RSPB), Mr. S. McKay, (EA), Cllr. R. Knight, (Barnstaple TC), Ms. A. Vaughan, (Gaia Trust), Mr. J. Diamond, (EN), Ms. K. James, (Explore Braunton), Cllr. Mrs M. Shapland, (Braunton PC), Mr. A. Gladwin, (Devon Birds), Cllr. G. Holder, (Ashford PC), Mr. J. Lee, (NDDC), Cllr. D. Harris (Fremington PC).

2. PRESENTATION: North Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Annual Update:
Rachel Ackerman, AONB Volunteer Co-ordinator:
Rachel Ackerman came to the Forum to report on the activities of the AONB 
She explained that the AONB covered most of the North Devon Coast and was set up as a Statutory Designation in 1959-60 for the protection of the landscape. The area includes 2 heritage coasts, a coastal preservation area and the core and much of the buffer zone of the Braunton Burrows Biosphere Reserve designated in 2003.
The whole area includes 5 landscape areas, 29 scheduled ancient monuments, 406 listed buildings and 3,000 historic sites. Also there are 10 Biodiversity Action Plan species and 7 Biodiversity Action Plan habitats. The area is also popular with tourists, with many visitors last year contributing to the local economy.
Rachel went on to explain what her own job in recruiting volunteers involved. She has also been building up an Evidence Base of Historic Sites, a Community Profile of Hedgerows, Nesting Birds and Butterfly Transects, Fixed Point Photography, County Wildlife Sites and a Cetacean Survey.
The Croyde Coastal Scrapbook, produced by the ND AONB with the assistance of various members of the local community, has just been finished. This scrapbook provides an important record of the living history of this coastline. It has been printed and distributed to 4 AONB museums in February 2008.
An important part of the work of the AONB is raising awareness. They do this by organising exhibitions, producing leaflets, and by supporting festivals, local shows and fairs. The AONB website has been updated. A number of open days have been arranged, a press campaign organised, and talks to local organisations have been given Newsletters and competitions.
Rachel, along with her colleagues, has been looking at the sustainable use of the environment within the AONB, including visits to farms and cattle markets for children, a forest school, a local food safari, farmers’ markets and the inclusion of bedroom browsers in hotel rooms containing information about the AONB and the Biosphere Reserve.
Rachel concluded her presentation with a reminder about the Discovery Day to be held at the Milky Way on March 16th. 2008, to which the public is invited.
The Chairman thanked Rachel for her presentation.

3. ANNUAL ELECTION of OFFICERS:
Chairman: Mrs. Rose Day was proposed by Tony Pratt, seconded by Wendy Dale and duly re-elected unanimously.
Vice – Chairman: Tony Pratt was proposed by Rose Day, seconded by Paul Fronteras and duly re-elected unanimously.
Hon. Secretary: Mrs. Ann Humphris was proposed by Rose Day, seconded by Wendy Dale and duly re-elected unanimously
The Chairman’s Statement:
The Chairman thanked the members for electing her as Chairman for the 14th year and announced that after much soul searching, she had come to the decision that this will be her final year as Chairman.
The Chairman gave out copies of her statement explaining her decision and marking the way forward. The Chairman had discussed with the Vice-Chairman the setting up of a Steering Group to help to take the TTEF forward. With this Steering Group in place, it is hoped that the new Chairman, when elected in 2009, will inherit a much reduced workload and an experienced Steering Group to assist in a seamless transition.
Once the Steering group is established, it is hoped that each of the members of the Group will take responsibility for one aspect of the workload, and that they in turn will be involving other TTEF members to assist them.
The Chairman will keep everyone informed of progress on a regular basis, and if anyone wishes to offer assistance, to the Steering Group please contact Tony Pratt.

4. PRESENTATION of TTEF ANNUAL ACCOUNTS for 2007:
Accounts: TTEF Receipts and Payments Account to 31.12.07 and
Braunton Marsh Project Receipts and Payments Account.
Copies of the Accounts were handed out to members and explained in detail by the Chairman.
David Graham proposed the adoption of the Annual Accounts, seconded by Paul Fronteras, and members voted unanimously to adopt them.
The Chairman is to write a letter of thanks to Mary Jane Scott for once again auditing the Accounts.

5. HONORARIA:
The Honoraria are waived by both the Hon. Sec. (£60) and the Chairman (£85).
It was agreed to keep the honoraria in place in case they are needed in the future.

6. ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION RATE for 2008:
29 subscriptions were paid in 2007 compared with 31 in 2008. There was one unpaid subscription (ND Jetski and PWC Club)
Barnstaple Civic Society has notified us that it will not be renewing its membership in 2008.
The Ceasar Boat Club has never paid a subscription and has been removed from the list of member organisations.
The Maritime & Coastguard Agency no longer pays subscriptions as a matter of national policy – but, because of its importance in the Estuary, the MCA is still retained on the list of TTEF members.
Tony Pratt proposed, Peter Hames seconded that the subscription for 2008 should increase to £18 and this was carried unanimously.

7. MINUTES of PREVIOUS MEETING: Monday 15th. October 2007.
John Breeds proposed and Simon Brown seconded the adoption of the minutes, and members voted unanimously to adopt them.

8. MATTERS ARISING from the minutes:
(a) Estuary Report:
o TTEF Newsletter – 4th. November 2007
o TTEF Newsletter – 13th. November 2007
o TTEF Newsletter – 13th. January 2007
All items from the Newsletters were for information or were covered later in the Agenda.
The Newsletters can be seen in full on the TTEF Website: www.ttef.org.uk 

North Devon and Somerset Shoreline Management Plan Review
The TTEF has been registered as a Stakeholder in this SMP review process. Angela Proctor (Environment Agency) had asked if the TTEF wanted her to register all of the TTEF organisations as Stakeholders in their own right. It was agreed that a list of the contact details of all TTEF organisations should be forwarded to the EA, to be registered ‘en bloc’.
A copy of the EA Press Release – “ND and Somerset coastline – have your say on coastal flood and erosion risk,” was handed out to members.

Richmond Dock – Planning Application:
No decision has yet been reached on this application.
The Chairman gave out a copy of her letter of response on behalf of the TTEF.

Pollution Incident – Northam Burrows – Goosey Pool:
The results of the tests on the fish killed were inconclusive and Northam TC has not been able to find an independent laboratory to do an analysis on the deep-frozen fish held by one of the councillors of Northam TC.
Andy Leyman (EA) confirmed that a report on a potential non-compliance with the conditions of Consent to Discharge at Northam sewage pumping station is nearing completion. When complete, a decision will be made as to whether any legal action can or will be taken. The EA will update the Forum on progress in about 2 to 3 weeks.

NDDC Environment Expo – It’s in Your Hands – Pannier Market, 18th. February 2008:
A reminder of this event was given. The Chairman asked that if any members had any information they would like displayed on the TTEF stand, to let her have it. She also asked if any members could help run the stand.

AONB/BR Discovery Day, Milky Way – Sunday, 16th March:
This will be a really enjoyable day out for all the family.
Volunteers to help run the stand would be appreciated.
The Chairman expressed her thanks to ATTURM for loan of display boards at both these events.

Braunton PC: Enhancement of Velator Quay:
The Chairman has registered TTEF’s interest with Cllr. Mrs. Palmer in her project to enhance Velator Quay and re-open it to the public. It was agreed that the Chairman should keep in touch with the progress of the project.

Devon Area Estuary Officers’ Meeting: 19th December 2007 at County Hall:
The Chairman attended this meeting. In response to the consultation on Estuary Partnerships, the Chairman has been asked to facilitate a joint response from all of the Estuary Officers around the County. The Chairman and Vice-chairman are to put together a response and then the chairman will have to arrange a meeting of the Devon Estuary Officers to finalise a joint response. The deadline for comments is 22nd. February.

Appledore Quay Wall:
The Chairman contacted Graham Buxton-Smith of the Environment Agency, to ask if any progress is being made on the re-cladding of Appledore Quay Wall. Her query was passed on to Dominic Primmer of Halcrow, who is to respond after he has had a chance to speak to his colleagues who are engaged on this project.
The Chairman will keep members updated in the next Newsletter.

Report from the Bideford Harbour Master and Taw Torridge Estuary Pilot: Capt. Roger Hoad.
Roger Hoad was unable to attend the meeting so he sent a written report.
He reported that continual rains mean that the river remains in spate; keeping channels clear and depositing silt overall. Lack of flood current makes berthing ships and life for pilots much more challenging. A relief pilot is being trained at present, to provide holiday and other cover.
Shipping has been quiet over Christmas, but now is busier. The bar buoy has yet to be replaced by Trinity House, making navigation more problematic for all. No new buoys or lights have been laid or placed by Trinity House.
The new Bideford Harbour Committee is at present being formed.
The promised Brunswick Wharf boat storage availability did not materialise.
Great usage of the Quay has been made over the summer for public events in conjunction with shipping and fishing fleet – such as the farmer’s market and the French market. The fishing fleet is landing fish, loading and maintaining itself at the quay whilst the fisherman’s co-operative at Appledore is being rebuilt
No new houseboats have been given permission to enter the Harbour, though several requests have been made.
The HMS Hindostan has been given permission to moor near to the slipway at Bideford for repainting and further work.
Sand dredging on behalf of a consortium of North Devon farmers has proceeded intermittently within the River Torridge.
Lundy road repair materials have been shipped sporadically via Severn Seas shipping land craft.
There is a plan to run an amphibious ferry across from Instow to Appledore, and throughout the Estuary if grants can be secured and physical practicalities overcome.
A kingfisher was spotted recently under the quay at Bideford, and the egrets remain at East the Water.
A new oil spill contingency plan has been produced for the harbour.
Continuing sustained increases in harbour business, mainly through commercial shipping, ensures that the harbour statutory service continues to make a surplus and greatly decrease lorry miles on Devon Roads.
The full report can be seen on the TTEF website – www.ttef.org.uk

(b) North Devon’s UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve:
1. Andy Bell the BR Co-ordinator was not present and no report was submitted.
2. Core Area Report: John Breeds.
Management – Grazing – Seasonal grazing continued on Soay Plain, Lamprey’s Block & Fox Slack until November 16th, when the 35 Red Devon cows and 15 calves were removed.
Biosphere Volunteers Conservation Tasks with regular Burrows volunteers have taken place on 7 occasions. Work has been mainly clearing litter and maintaining small sample areas within overgrown flower rich areas near Venner’s Pond and in Sandy Lane copses as these areas are deteriorating. 5 volunteers have helped regularly with tasks such as monitoring the water tables, rabbit counts and recording flora and fauna.
Flora and Fauna: Rare Species: Dr. David Holyoak reported that 2 patches of the reintroduced rare moss Bryum warneum have increased significantly and that Petalwort is colonising new areas in the excavated scrapes.
Research and Monitoring: Water Tables: The monthly water table readings in 18 sites on the Burrows and rainfall readings at the White House were continued.
9 rabbit counts have been carried out.
Undesirable Activities: In November vandals in Sandy Lane car park used fireworks and damaged a dog bin and dustbin. On January 12th the car park was closed due to a dispute with the planning authority and the 5 dog bins were removed.
Incidents of vehicle trespass on Crow and Broadsands beach have been reduced as the barrier at the White House slipway has been closed but not locked.
Events: This year’s annual public meeting was held in the morning of November 27th in Braunton Parish Hall.
Educational: A full report on the 2007 walks season has been compiled.
John Hartnoll Braunton Marsh Inspector, reported that the barrier at the White House was up and unlocked. The commissioners were putting up a new locking system in the summer. He would keep the forum informed of progress.
The full report can be seen on the TTEF website – www.ttef.org.uk 
3. Explore Braunton Project – Katie James:
A copy of the written report was handed to members at the meeting.
Katie James reported that the Explore Braunton project is entering its development phase. Routes for the multimedia tours are currently being finalised.
The project officer still seeks contributions. Everyone’s support is essential to the success of this community project. Some of the responses received to date cover topics as diverse as volunteering on the Burrows, bird-life in Braunton, Braunton during war time and the rocks of Braunton Parish, but much more is required.
Braunton Burrows Files: The Chairman had put together the updated Braunton Burrows Files and passed them to Richard Butler so that they could be sent via the Library Service to Barnstaple, Braunton and Bideford Libraries.
4.AONB and UKMAB Update:
Richard Butler reported on the success of the Sustainable Development Fund, the grants of which have all been taken up. One of the grants available with the support of Leader+ has been given for Orchard Rehabilitation in North Devon.
Biosphere Reserve news: Richard Butler mentioned that there were two more possible applications for Biosphere Reserve Status in the country, one in the Dovey Estuary in Wales and another in the Galloway Hills in Southern Scotland.
Richard also suggested that an invitation be given to Dr. Mike Moser, the new Chairman, of the Biosphere Reserve Partnership, to give a short presentation at the next meeting of the Forum.

(c) Estuary Registration Scheme:
A copy of the notes from a meeting held at the NDCCS on 23rd November 2007 was handed out to members. There will be a further meeting with the NDCCS on Tuesday 5th February – this is to update the Estuary Users’ Guide and the Estuary Code of Conduct Leaflet, before reprinting it in time for the 2008 season. The following other topics were also discussed:
1. Areas of General Navigation. The question of who is the responsible body for the area of the Estuary outside the Port of Bideford was discussed. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has responsibility for Areas of General Navigation. The Chairman was asked to write to the MCA at Swansea to clarify matters. The response from Swansea was handed to members in their pack.
2. MV. Severn Sands and two barges containing tyres/waste and sewage: The Chairman had contacted the Environment Agency to clarify whether (a) the tyres brought into the Estuary on the two barges, beside the Severn Sands at Fremington Quay, constitute waste
(b) And, if so, whether they require a waste licence.
(c ) Whether the raw sewage and rubbish from houseboats in the estuary was regulated.
Sean McKay (EA), in his reply reported that investigations are still on going and he does not anticipate progress being fast. The tyres are waste.
Stuart Corbett, (EA), could not enlighten the meeting as to who the ‘relevant authorities ‘ were.
As regards the Discharge of Sewage and Rubbish from Houseboats, Sean McKay commented that there is a defence under the Water Resources Act 1991, which puts this matter beyond the EA’s remit. This matter is normally dealt with by the Harbour Authority or by byelaws.
The Chairman commented that we have neither a Harbour Authority, nor byelaws, outside the Port of Bideford.
The Chairman said that she would take what information she had back to the meeting on February 5th.

(d) Foreshore Leases around the Estuary: 
The Chairman had again written to TDC, MoD and Braunton Marsh Inspectors to see if any progress has been made 
Mark Lyall of MOD/Defence Estates had replied that there had been a change of personnel at the Crown Commissioners, which was delaying things.
There had been no reply from TDC.
John Hartnoll of the Braunton Marsh Inspectors gave the Chairman a photocopy of the details of the foreshore lease at Velator and the White House.

(e) Knapp House: Update.
The EA gave an update on this matter. Although the situation is still on-going, the breach of the flood bank has been repaired but the transitional salt marsh may be lost.
The construction of the track beyond the breach was not given permission, but as there is some justification that the track strengthens the bank, the landowner has been asked to put in a retrospective application.
Ben Totterdell (NDCCS) is to review that the repair of the breach is permanent and that the footpath is viable. The Temporary Closure Order runs out on the 1st February 2008.
Miranda Cox, Northam TC, contacted the Chairman to inform her that the idea of a marina at Knapp House had resurfaced at TDC’s last Strategic Plan meeting. This information was passed onto Roger Hoad and to the RNLI. Miranda Cox asked for feedback from TTEF on this matter. The Forum opposed previous plans for a marina.

(f) Estuary Ferry Project: Update:
It was reported in the recent newsletter that an Environment Impact Assessment will be required for this project. The Chairman had passed on verbal comments made by members at the last meeting. The Forum will have an opportunity to comment formally when the EIA is circulated.
As progress is very slow and funding is proving difficult, it is hoped that a limited Instow to Appledore Service, using one craft, will be in operation this summer.

(g) Bathing Water at Instow:
At the TTEF meeting in October 2007 Sean McKay (EA) had put forward a suggestion that, in view of the fact that Instow Beach was subject to diffuse pollution coming downstream from the Torridge and the Taw, it would make sense to declassify Instow as a bathing beach.
This statement had been sent to Instow Parish Council for comment.
A reply had been received from Instow PC: ‘Instow Parish Council would in no way be in favour of having Instow’s beach declassified as a bathing beach just to solve the current bad publicity it receives. Councillors were unanimous in this view.’

(h) Joint NDDC/TDC Local Strategic Partnership:
ND & Torridge Joint Core Strategy Issues and Options Consultation and Sustainability Appraisal:
The Chairman had responded to this consultation on behalf of the TTEF. She felt that it was important to put the case to both councils that their draft strategy made no mention of the coastal/marine/estuarine areas of their districts, except to mention ‘maritime’ once, in relation to promoting the economic expansion of Ilfracombe Harbour. She felt that they should be reminded that their districts cover marine, coastal and estuarine areas and that the draft Marine Bill and Integrated Coastal Zone Management will require both spatial planning and the integration of marine and land based planning.
The consultation time has been extended until 31st January.
A copy of the TTEF Response was handed out to members.
ND & Torridge LSP Federation:
The first new-style LSP Federation Event, following the formation of the Joint Local Strategic Partnership for the whole of North Devon and Torridge Districts, was held at Caddsdown on 11th January 2008.The Chairman and Kevin Baker of the EA were asked to put together a paper for the Federation on the Cross-Cutting Theme of Climate Change. This was then discussed at the Federation. Stakeholders’ views were noted, and will be included in the final outcomes.
A copy of the draft document was handed out to members.
The last LSP meeting was a special meeting convened to discuss the DCC Local Area Agreement.
A copy of the Devon Strategic Partnership’s leaflet explaining the Devon Local Agreement 2008 – 11, was handed out to members.
(i) District Council Liaison: No officers present.

9. URGENT MATTERS brought forward by the Chairman:
Barrage in the Taw Torridge Estuary:
It had been reported in the local press that Mr. Apps had new plans for a barrage, this time between Crow Point and Northam Burrows. The Chairman said she would endeavour to find out more information on this.

10. Consultations: All of these have already been notified to members except:-
DCC: Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004:
Consultation on New Procedures for the Validation of Planning Applications for:
 Where the County Council proposes to develop its own land including that at County Schools and County-owned buildings
 Where the County makes an application to develop land not in its’ ownership.
Applications for Waste Development.
Deadline: Monday, 25th February 2008 at 12 noon.

11. Correspondence Received: All correspondence has already been reported in Newsletters or in Agenda items.


12. AGENDA ITEMS proposed for next meeting:
Short talk by Dr. Mike Moser, Chairman of North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve Partnership.

13 Any Other Business:
 Wendy Dale, RNLI, wished to dispel some confusion which had arisen in reporting that the MCA and the RNLI were taking industrial action. This is not accurate – The RNLI is not taking industrial action.
 Robert Harwood (EA) drew attention to the fact that DEFRA had decided that responsibility for the sea fisheries management in estuaries will, in future, rest with Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs). IFCAs will be established under the Marine Bill and will replace Sea Fisheries Committees as the inshore sea fisheries manager including in the Taw Torridge Estuary, where the Environment Agency is, at present, the Sea Fisheries Authority.
14. Dates and Venues of Meetings for the forthcoming year:

Monday 21st April 2008 at Civic Centre, Barnstaple, at 7p.m.
Monday 21st July 2008 at Civic Centre, Barnstaple* at 7p.m.
Monday 20th October 2008 at Civic Centre, Barnstaple at 7p.m.
Monday 19th. January 2009 at Town Hall, Bideford, (AGM), at 7p.m.
* Please note that the July meeting will be held in Barnstaple and not in Bideford, as the Bideford venue was not available.
There being no other business the meeting closed at 21.10 
 

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