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July 2003

MINUTES for the Meeting held on Monday, 7th July, 2003 at Bideford Town Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Mrs. R. Day, Chairman (Instow P.C., C.P.R.E.), Mr.P.Mullen, (Fremington P.C.),  Capt.P.Fronteras, (Westleigh P.C.), Mr.J.M.Breeds, (MoD), Mr.J.Bell,(Northam T.C.), Mr.T.Jones, (Devon Birds), Mr.J.Turner, (NDDC), Mr.T.Squire, (ND Waterski Club), Mr.W.G.Cox, (BARC), Mr.J.S.Seaman, (EA), Mr.R.K.Butler, (UKMAB), Mr.J.Daniel, (TTNets.), Mr.L.Oldham, (TTWildfowling Club), Ms.B.Haddrill, (DWT.), Mrs.A.Humphris, Hon Sec.

The Chairman welcomed Miss Sarah Colquhoun, Westcountry Rivers Trust, to the Meeting.

1.   APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE: Mr.J.Hadfield, (Bideford T.C.), Mr.T.Pratt, (NDYC), Cllr. A.Windsor, (Barnstaple T.C.), Mr.C.Davis, (EN.), Mr.J.Hartnoll, (Marsh Commissioners), Mrs.M.Shapland, (Braunton P.C.) Mr.J.Ramsden, (NDCon. Soc.) Mr.A.Black, (Jetskiers Rep.) Mr.A Bell, (NDCCS.), Mr.T.Smale,(TDC), Mr.M.Davies,(RSPB.),

2.  MINUTES:  (a) Previous Meeting held on Monday, 28th. April, 2003. It was proposed by Paul Fronteras, seconded by Jeremy Bell that the Minutes be accepted and they were adopted unanimously.

                        (b) Website Subcommittee Meeting, held Monday, 12th.May, 2003. It was proposed  by Paul Fronteras, seconded by Rose Day that these Minutes should be adopted.

                         (c). The minutes of the Jetski Meeting held on Monday, 9th, June, 2003 had been circulated to Members before the Meeting.

3. MATTERS ARISING from the Minutes:

(a) Estuary Report: Andy Bell had sent  a report which the Chairman passed on to the meeting.

Review of the NDCCS Management and Structures: There is no movement forwards, its still heading for a Management Board and Stakeholders Group as reported at the last meeting.

Mussels in the Torridge: The mussels at Appledore have been declared safe. There have been meetings between NDCCS, the District Councils and the Environment Agency about Regulatory Orders for local  fishermen.

DWT – National Otter Survey: This survey has shown a five-fold increase over a survey taken 25 years  ago, 83% of these are in the South West, the highest in the country.

Wings South West Project: Tarka  Trail: As reported last meeting there have been two projects, a pond restoration and a wild flower seeding along the Trail. A plan of the project is available.

Water Quality Sampling – Instow Beach: A handout of this season’s results so far was available. The first sampling showed a slight blip, which was due to a problem with a pumping station at Instow, now rectified. More recent samples have been good. It is appropriate that surveys should be carried out to ensure that there are no rogue discharges, other than storm overflows. In answer to member’s query Spence Seaman said that there was testing of all designated beaches and all the results were obtainable from the E.A. Website. The Chairman to ask to receive Westward Ho! and Saunton results in addition to those of Instow.

RNLI VISIT: Saturday, 14th. June 2003: This visit was very successful, members were made very welcome by the RNLI, and Chairman reported that she had written letters of thanks to their Secretary and President.

(b) Braunton Burrows UNESCO Biosphere Reserve:

Richard Butler reported that on the Thursday following the meeting there was to be a Parliamentary Briefing of the UK launch of the World Resources Report, entitled “Earth-Balance, Voice and Power”which contains items of Environmental Issues of interest to all. This is a first ever attempt to systematically measure Government performance in providing access to environmental information, decision making and justice.

Richard Butler also mentioned that MAB UK are prepared to nominate NDCCS for the prize of £20,000 sponsored by the Sultan of Quaboos  of the United Emerites. This prize is awarded for  Environmental Preservation 2003.

In Andy Bell’s absence, the Chairman presented his report. The Chairman reported that the Management Board and Stakeholder Group is still being discussed, there is no progress on that.

The Biosphere Reserve leaflets are now available. Copies were handed out at the meeting.

Following a letter in the press from Raymond Coldwell, Andy Bell had been in contact with him to resolve the conflict of interests over the management of the Core Area. Andy Bell said that if the Core Area is being well managed by Christie Estates, the Board will work in the areas outside the Core Area. As a result, the Board is the appropriate structure for the Buffer and Transition Areas.

John Breeds pointed out that the Landowner’s sensitivity must be appreciated.

The Chairman asked what could be done by the Forum in view of the fact that it is nearly 8 months since the Biosphere Reserve was declared and the Forum still had no firm idea of what role it will play. Further enquiries will be made as to the cause of the delay.

(c) Jet Skis in the Estuary:

Minutes of the Meeting were circulated to all invitees/attendees and all Forum members, District Councils and  County Councillors. A representative of the Jet Skiers was invited to the Forum meeting but had to send his apologies on this occasion.

The Jet Skiers and other power craft users had agreed to form a club, and to abide by the Code of Conduct. The membership of the club would be restricted to a small number of locals, and would attempt to “police” their own activities. Jet Skiers were not averse to registration or licensing – granting of registration or license could be dependent upon having 3rd. party insurance, club membership, compliance with the Code of Conduct. In return, they could then be allowed to launch.

Tim Squire suggested that the next move was in the hands of the jet skiers but the Forum should not allow the matter to go cold. Jeremy Bell suggested that the jet skiers should be given a time limit of the beginning of the next season to get organised otherwise it would go on and on.

The Chairman is to make contact and ask if they need any help to form a club.

The NDDC response: Jon Turner reported that the environment team wholly supports a voluntary code of practice amongst the various powered craft groups. Policing such groups by trying to enforce rules and regulations would be extremely costly, and the Authorities do not have the resources to police.

TDC Response: Mr. Smale is, at the moment, compiling a report on jet skiing in the estuary, and this report will go to committee later this month.

The DCC Byelaw is totally inadequate and DCC need to do something about it.

Action. The Chairman is to contact the DCC. and Andy Bell to see if progress can be made.

(d) Crab Tiles:  The crab tiles at the White House have been removed (but not by NDDC). A student has been employed  to help with survey of crabs, crab tiles and plankton. The survey will take place in late July/ early August. Volunteers are needed. There is a training day in Exmouth on 14th July. Tim Squire, Les Oldham and Peter Mullen added their names to the list of volunteers.

NDDC Response: Jon Turner reported on his discussions with the environment team who pointed out that the responsibility for public safety sits with the various landowners. Andy Bell suggested that NDDC leases some of the foreshore, but as waterskiing only takes place  in designated areas, perhaps we should concentrate on these. If an accident was to occur, how could anyone prove responsibility- something that was underwater ( and therefore invisible) would be moved by any impact.

After the survey some regulation will take place. EA, Devon Sea Fisheries, EN, and NDCCS  are all involved in the survey.

(e) Moored Boats: Response from NDDC. This group has not met, and at present has not been re-appointed by the new Council.

There is still no response from TDC.

(f) Website: The Minutes of the website meeting had been circulated. Paul Fronteras has made huge progress with setting up the website and he reported that all was in place, waiting for the site to be hosted and addressed. The Chairman was to arrange a further  meeting of the website sub committee to start to pull things together

11 website questionnaires had been returned and the Chairman asked for other member organisations to return theirs.

(g) Northam Burrows: The Chairman had spoken to Steve Reynolds of TDC regarding the Register of Contaminated Sites, with particular reference to Northam Burrows. The Register has not been compiled, as the Council is still in the process of obtaining information.

The TDC Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy can be found on TDC’s website. It is a statement of intent but no register as yet.

(h) AONB: The draft AONB Plan will be completed very soon. A meeting of the JAC will be called to discuss it.

(i)Appledore Quay Wall:  A copy of the letter from EA to TDC was circulated with the agenda. There is no notification, as yet, that a planning application has been lodged.

An interesting adjunct to this is the article in the NDJ, stating that the stone facing on Bideford Quay is now coming away from the concrete panels.

Spence Seaman said that he would bring an update to the next meeting.

5. URGENT MATTERS brought forward by the Chairman:

(a) Torridge District  Local Plan: Inspector’s Report:

This report has now been issued, and is available for inspection at Council Offices at: Riverbank House, Bideford, Castle Hill, Torrington, and Manor Offices, Holsworthy. It also available on-line in the Local Plans section of the Council’s website and at local libraries.

The Forum’s objections were:-‘ Under the Heading  “Flood Protection and Defence.”

The Amendment now reads “Development outside areas at risk from flooding will not be permitted if it contributes to or exacerbates flooding problems elsewhere.”

Special Landscapes: The Inspector  agrees that there is no merit in TDC setting up a “Coastal Zone” instead of the already successful “Coastal Protection Area” designated in 1966. His recommendation is :

“Revise the Plan to replace the Coastal Zone with a Coastal Protection  Area based on the guidance in the Devon Structure Plan and replace ENV6 (2) with: “Within the Coastal Preservation Area as defined on the Proposals Map, development will only be permitted where there is a particular and proven need for that development to be located within the CPA, including where it supports public access and enjoyment of the caost, and where the need outweighs any harm to the unspoilt nature of the area.””.

(b) Leaderflush & Shapland/ARC Site, Raleigh Works, Taw Wharf: Outline application for:

1.Retention & Re-use of the Oliver designed buildings.

2.Demolition of remainder of buildings on site.

3.Comprehensive development to include residential, non-foot retail, A3 (Food & Drink), Community Retail/Service Uses, together with

4..Associated Access Diversion of Cycleway/Footpath, Vehicle Parking, Servicing & Landscaping works (Amended Description)

The Chairman read out a schedule of changes provided with the plans.

A handout was available which gave a summary of changes to the original scheme at Anchorwood Bank. With the plans, there are also revised Environmental Statements and Ecological Statements- the full copies of these statements can be studied in detail at NDDC Planning Dept. The Chairman  has  the summary documents. The Chairman suggested that due to the amount of information , this planning application should be the subject of a short sub-committee meeting in the near  future.

©. Devon Minerals Local Plan: Publication of Modifications Document.

Summary of the Inspector’s Recommendations and County Council’s Actions.  The Report also summarises all those changes made to the Plan in order to update it factually or to correct any errors.

Modifications Document- Redrafting the Revised Deposit Version to contain all the modifications and changes considered necessary by DCC. It is available on the DCC Website or it can be inspected at TDC, Riverbank House or NDDC, Civic Centre or at County Hall. All objections and representations are to be made to the Minerals Policy Section, Environment Directorate, DCC, Lucombe House, County Hall,Exeter, EX2 4QW by Monday, 18th. August, 2003., or the Chairman  will receive comments so that the Forum’s objections can be sent altogether.

6 DOWNSTREAM BRIDGE: NDDC Update: The latest information that the NDDC has  is that there is yet another challenge relating to the bridge from an environmental group. It may be going to the European Court.

The North Devon Journal reported that a third legal challenge is being launched by Friends of the Earth, who have won permission to take this scheme to the Court of Appeal. This will challenge a decision by the former Transport Secretary confirming compulsory purchase orders following a public enquiry in June 2001.

Friends of the Earth claim that the site should be given the same protection as if it were a Special Protected Area under the Wild Birds EEC Directive and the EEC Habitats Directive and Regulations. They feel that the bypass project would seriously disturb the large numbers of sea birds in the estuary and the habitat of endangered otters.

Malcolm Davies RSPB commented that as far as he understood, the area  in question does not  meet the criteria for an SPA..

Lord Justice Carnwath directed the matter to come up at the full Court of Appeal before the end of July.

7. CONSULTATIONS:

(a).TDC – Infrastructure Special Planning Guideline. Education and Libraries Provision in New Development: It was arguable whether this was in the Forum’s remit no comments were forthcoming from members.

(b) DCC – Bideford Longbridge- Another Lease of Life:

The Chairman had visited the exhibition and visited the website. As no comments came from Forum members , the Chairman submitted  her own personal comments.

bulletThe Longbridge is the symbol of Bideford, and reflects its long and distinguished maritime history.
bulletThe strengthening and repair of the bridge should, therefore, in no way alter its appearance.
bulletThe weight limit should be maintained.
bulletHeavy traffic should continue to use the new Torridge Bridge, and the  Westleigh Junction should be converted to a full roundabout on the grounds of safety.
bulletThe proposal to extend the Conservation Area to the edge of the quayside at East the Water and the opportunity to extend the centre of Bideford to encompass both sides of the river adds weight to the argument for preserving and enhancing Bideford Bridge.


©.DCC – Municipal Waste Management Strategy:  This consultation extends until 12th September, 2003 and is available on DCC website. Any comments are to be forwarded to the Chairman in plenty of time.

(d)Countryside Agency: CROW Act 2000 – Mapping New Access:

The consultation and roadshow was on 10th. June. Maps can be viewed on the Countryside Agency website. This consultation was on the Draft Map – comments can be made on-line and by e-mail, or there are printed forms which can be filled out. From these comments a provisional map will be drawn up, to which only the landowners and organisations involved will have a right of appeal. Following this, the Secretary of State will make a Commencement Order, which will officially bring the final map of the rights of way into operation. Deadline for comments is 13th.August, 2003.

Braunton Burrows was not included on the draft map, as it did not fit  the designation of habitats – i.e. Mountain, Moorland, Heath and Down. It is also MOD land, and would, therefore, be excluded anyway. However, there is more or less unfettered access there. Andy Bell assured the Chairman that this will be looked at next time round.

Instow sand dunes are shown on the map as common land. The land was placed on the Commons Register in error in the past and, following a court case, should have been removed.

8. CORRESPONDENCE RECEIVED:

CPRE. Our Countryside – Newsletter.

          Night Blight! – Leaflet on Light Pollution.

          Countryside Voice – National Magazine – Summer 2003.

Useful Websites – Leaflets handed to members at the meeting.

Westcountry Rivers Trust: Current Projects. WRT Newsletters – 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002.

Sarah Colquhoun of WRT explained the work of the Rivers Trust, gave out leaflets and expressed a wish to join the Forum.

9. AGENDA ITEMS for next Meeting:

There will be no item “Future Coast” from English Nature due to copyright problems.

  1. Yelland Quay. 

10. ANY OTHER BUSINESS:

Jon Turner , NDDC, informed the  Forum that  there had been a request for the Jet Ski Issue to be put on the  Northern Rural Area Committee Agenda for October 8th 2003, and a report of the Jet ski meeting on June 9th would be given.

11. Dates for Meetings for the Year:

Monday, 6th. October, 2003 at Barnstaple

Monday, 19th. January, 2004 at Bideford.  (AGM)

There being no other business the meeting closed at 8.55.

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