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October 2003

TAW TORRIDGE ESTUARY FORUM


MINUTES 
for the Meeting held on Monday, 6th.October, 2003 at the Civic Centre, Barnstaple.

 

MEMBERS PRESENT: Mrs.R.Day, Chairman (Instow P.C., C.P.R.E.) Mr.T.Pratt, Vice-Chairman, (N.D.Y.C.) Mr.P.Fronteras,(Westleigh P.C.) Mr. J. Ramsden, (N.D.Civic & Conservation Soc.)  Mr.R.Butler,(UK.MAB.). Mr.T.Squire, (N.D.Waterski Club.) Mrs. P.Ferris, (Braunton Countryside Centre). Mr.J.Bell, Northam TC.).Mr.M.Davies, (RSPB.). Mr.J.Seaman, (EA.),  Mr.J.Turner, (NDDC). Mr.T.Jones, (Devon Birds). Mr.J.Hartnoll,(Braunton Marsh Inspector). Mr.P.Carter, (EA).Mr.J.Daniel, (TTNets.) Mr.A.Black,(Braunton Jetskiers.) Mr.P.Mullen,(Fremington PC.) Mr.J.Breeds, (MOD). Mrs.A.Humphris, Hon Sec.

 

1. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE: Mr A Bell(NDCCS) Mrs.M.Shapland (BrauntonPC)      Mr.D.Perkins,(RMB.ChivenorMr.T.Smale,(Chief Exec.TDC.)  Mr.L.Oldham,(NDWildfowling C). Ms.B.Haddrill,(DWT). Mr.J.Hadfield,(Bideford TC). Ms.S.Colquhoun,(Westcountry Rivers Trust)

 

2. MINUTES:  (a) Previous Meeting held on Monday, 7th. July, 2003.It was proposed by John Ramsden, seconded by Jeremy Bell that the Minutes be accepted and they were adopted unanimously.

                    (b) Website Subcommittee Meeting, held Monday, 7th. August 2003.It was agreed by members present at the meeting that the Minutes should be adopted.

 

3.MATTERS ARISING from the MINUTES:

(a) Estuary Report: Andy Bell was unable to attend the Meeting and there was no report from him. The Chairman gave a report of information she had.

EA Bathing Water Monitoring: Instow Beach has passed the Mandatory Water Quality Standard, as have Westward Ho! and Saunton. There was a Handout  of the results, which have also been posted on the Forum’s new website. The Chairman also has the results for all the outfall points in the whole of North Devon District, sent to Instow Parish Council by Andrew Millie, Assistant Environmental Health Manager of NDDC. Copies of these results can be obtained from her.

Jeremy Bell, Northam TC, reported on a problem at Rocknose. Spence Seaman replied that the EA would want it reported to them as it happens and they will investigate. The free phone number is:-0800 807060.

Action:1. The Chairman is to write a congratulatory letter to South West Water to thank them for the improved water quality with special mention of the storm drains.

2.Request information on spill frequency for Rock Nose, Bideford FSP, Yelland, Muddlebridge and Instow.

The Chairman quoted from a report from DEFRA in the local press that North Devon Rivers are the cleanest and the best for water quality in the South West. It was suggested that the clean water result of the Estuary was not necessarily repeated upstream.

Also there was an article in the press about the success of the Coastal Footpath and how it has brought a lot of money to the local economy.

Shell Fishing and Regulatory Orders: Paul Carter reported on the mussels in the Estuary. He wished to keep the forum up to date with progress.

He said that there was some suggestion that the responsibility for the monitoring the mussels in the Estuary was to be taken away from the EA, but DEFRA decided that it should remain with EA. The harvesting of mussels is free at the moment. There was also progress on producing the regulatory order. Devon Sea Fisheries are to be employed to draw up a regulatory order to be enforced by EA. Local fishermen will have to apply and pay for a licence for an allocation of acre plots. Before the regulatory order is in place and to conserve supplies, the Agency will have to enforce byelaws on taking mussels

Prior to allocation of plots there will be an informal meeting of shell fishermen to see where to encourage and grow fisheries. It is still under discussion over how many acres are to be used and still have some left for public fishing

Paul Carter suggested that the public should be vigilant as regards misuse of the fisheries or over fishing and pass on any information to EA on the free phone no:- 0800 807060.

EA Environmental Network Conference: The Chairman has been invited by the Devon Area Environment Group to attend a conference at Exminster House on Thursday, 27th. November 2003. She will be able to report on this at the next meeting.

EN Personnel Changes: James Diamond has now assumed responsibility for Braunton Burrows.

Appledore Shipbuilders: The Chairman said that no one could fail to have heard about the recent problems at Appledore Shipbuilders. The building of boats at Appledore has always been an integral part of life on the Taw and Torridge Estuary. It is hoped that some way will be found to ensure that this traditional industry can continue to play an important part in the life of both the Estuary and North Devon, and the thoughts of everyone are with those whose jobs have been affected by the recent receivership of the shipyard.

Crab Tiles: The Chairman reported that after offering to help, along with other members of the forum, no further information was forthcoming. Perhaps it did not happen.

(b) Braunton Burrows UNESCO Biosphere Reserve:

At the last Forum meeting, the Chairman and Richard Butler, UK MAB, were asked to investigate the delays in the setting up of the Biosphere Reserve and the review of the NDCCS. This has been done.

They met with Andy Bell on July 29th. During the course of the meeting the following points were discussed:

Delay in setting up the Management Structure of the Biosphere Reserve:

  It was agreed that a combined approach together with the North Devon Economic Partnership should be made to Devon County Council. The ND Economic Partnership is to business in North Devon what the Estuary Forum is to the Environment. The Chairman of the Economic Partnership is David Whiteley, and he is equally as frustrated over the County dragging its heels. The original intention was to set up a meeting with Mr. Ed Chorlton of the Environment Directorate at County Hall, in order to try and move things forward. However  it was agreed to approach the matter through Derrick Spear, the County Councillor for Braunton Burrows, the Chairman of the Joint Advisory Committee of the NDCCS, and also a member of the Devon Economic Partnership. The Chairman wrote to Derrick Spear on behalf of the Forum on 8th. September, and David Whiteley wrote for  the NDEconomic Partnership. To date no replies have been received.

There was a Handout of the letter sent to Derrick Spear dated 8thSeptember.

The letter was endorsed by the Forum.

The Chairman went on to report that public frustration was building up over the lack of progress with the Biosphere, Paula Ferris had also written a letter expressing her frustration, and the Chairman had been telephoned by Mary Breeds from the Braunton Countryside Centre on the same theme.

Paula Ferris had had an article, a call for leadership, regarding the Biosphere, published in the local press. The journalist who published the article had tried to get quotes from DCC without success, the DCC Press officer denying any knowledge of the Project.

The Chairman went on to report from notes she had made at the meeting with Andy Bell on July 29th as no update was available.

NDCCS Review:

The report of the consultants on the NDCCS review was submitted to DCC in May, but it has still not been implemented.

Those organisations that had taken part in the public consultation on the NDCCS review have not received any information or updates concerning the review – now well over a year.

Biosphere Reserve:

Name: Following the public consultation in the New Year on a new name for the Biosphere, a student was appointed to do market research. This did not happen and no progress has been made.

Andy Bell was to meet with Hector Christie, because the Board of Devon Christie Estates did not want the name changed.

Logos: Some draft logos have been submitted as part of an educational art project at the North Devon College. There will be important decisions that will have to be made over who can use any Biosphere logo, and for what purpose. Goods bearing the logo will have to conform to strict standards of quality and sustainability.

Leaflets: A business information leaflet is in the course of being produced. There was to be a press launch with Hector Christie and Raymond Coldwell, but there is no information as to whether this has taken place.

Zones:  The core zone, under the management of the MOD and the Christie Estates, and protected by the Braunton Burrows Management Plan and the AONB, is well catered for. The Buffer Zone is protected by the SSSIs, CPAs and other AONBs and, as a result, is also well catered for. It is the transition zone, which is the least well protected area.

Bids: Three bids are being put forward for:

(i)                 A County-wide bid for sustainable marketing

(ii)               A depuration plant under the Shellfish Regulatory Order.Paul Carter (EA) had no knowledge of this.

(iii)              An Interpretive Strategy under Leader Plus (£25,000)

Post of Biosphere Co-ordinator and Countryside Manager: This post was finally advertised nationally, 11thSeptember at a salary of £29K - £36K.

The UKMAB nomination of NDCCS for the Sultan of Quaboos Prize was unsuccessful.

 Interpretive Centre and Interpretive Strategy for Biosphere Reserve.: Richard Butler UK MAB.

Richard Butler reported that it was necessary to enthuse people in the interpretive strategy, which is more than just an information provider. There should be a strategy for all 3 zones but particularly the transition zone. It must be decided on how the information about the Biosphere is to be imparted to visitors and locals. There have to be many different and varied activities offered, walks, guided walks, trails, water borne trails, visitor centres, centres of excellence, view points and literature. The success of the Biosphere depends on this. There must also be formal links through education at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

Marketing is a vital tool, but must be carefully managed in an appropriate, professional way.But above all how is the quality of the Biosphere to be maintained? If this is not done, it could be de-registered. The success of the Biosphere has to be measured and maintained so that methods can be updated and the success is continued. It is important to get it right and in this to involve as many people as possible, especially the farming community, the museum service and scientific personnel.

He concluded by saying that this project is community based and help is needed from everybody. The original enthusiasm from the community at the outset must not be lost.

The Chairman remarked that without leadership, it was difficult to pull things together. DCC should take the lead.

Tony Pratt suggested that some stirring needed to be done before all that has been gained is lost. He thought that the name issue needed to be brought to the fore as nothing had happened there for a while.

Paula Ferris said that she had made no headway with DCC on the leadership issue and had, in fact gained more help from foreign biospheres than the local DCC.

Braunton Burrows Biosphere Events Report 2003 – John Breeds.

John Breeds reported that the designation of the revised Biosphere Reserve has generated increased interest throughout this year resulting in many more requests for talks, walks, literature and detailed information about, for example, locations of rare species, access to the site, educational and other facilities.

An enlarged programme of talks and guided walks was organised this year to include the wider Biosphere. At Braunton Countryside Centre a series of 12 weekly talks took place on a wide variety of themes relating to the Biosphere area, wildlife, geology and local history. These talks raised nearly £400 for the Countryside Centre. At present it is the only interpretive centre featuring the core of the reserve in the context of the buffer zones and is staffed and funded entirely by volunteers and voluntary donations.

Visits to the Biosphere have increased generally this year with 25 different groups ranging from large college groups of 80 students to specialist societies. In addition a programme of 10 Biosphere walks open to all took place, 6 on the Burrows, 4 on various parts of the Biosphere reserve. In addition the NDCCS organised 3 Biosphere weekends, one in May and 2 in September. The whole Biosphere area is attracting more interest from specialist groups such as the recent visit to the Marsh by the botanical section of the Devonshire Association.

Mary Breeds produced a display on the Biosphere and is writing a booklet about the flora of Braunton Burrows.

The increase in interest in the Biosphere has highlighted the urgent need for the provision of informative interpretive boards in the three main car parks. This must be a priority in the coming months.

Conservation management of the core area continues with extensive mowing and some grazing with traditional breeds- Red Devon cattle and Portland sheep. The grazing trials set up in 1998 were completed this year – a report on the results of the vegetation monitoring and its conclusions from an independent assessor is due in 2004. Excavations to remove surface vegetation and produce wetter conditions during 1999 & 2000 were carried out to recreate habitat suitable for the Water Germander, a plant formerly known from 10 counties, now only 2. The plant has reappeared on 7 of the 8 excavated sites and is now thriving on them.Water table readings taken on October 2nd. showed the lowest levels ever recorded since readings started in 1966.

The Sand Lizard was first introduced in 2001 with 3 autumn releases, a total of 117 specially bred hatchlings freed. Breeding was confirmed this year – an adult female and a recently born juvenile seen. The crested newt has been found in 7 of the 29 ponds on the dune system, a night survey in two of the ponds on the 23 March revealed 61 individuals.

Regular rabbit counts, started in 1999, have continued and show an increase in numbers.

Illicit camping and noisy all night parties have proved virtually impossible to control, both visitors and wardens have been intimidated by campers.

Gangs of up to 6 poachers with firearms have hunted over the dunes, adjacent agricultural fields and Braunton Marsh at night; since their visits the Roe deer population has declined and 6 sheep have disappeared without trace from the dune system.

Concern grows over the increasing use of the Burrows for exercising dogs, many of them uncontrolled. Ground nesting birds such as the Skylark have declined and future-grazing management could be jeopardised.

Braunton Burrows Database: Paula Ferris reported that after many difficulties, they are still working on it, but as yet it is not quite complete

Action:1.The Chairman asked the Members how to press forward the initiative to get some progress. She said that she would write on behalf of the Forum, expressing disappointment  that there had been no response from Derrick Spear. Also to try and set up a meeting with DCC and Mr. Chorlton and David Morrish as Chairman of DCC.

2. She wished to register the suggestion that there should be a standing Biosphere Item at the NDCCS JAC Agenda and an annual timetable of JAC meetings.

3.Meetings with ND Economic Partnership to set up a working relationship with them.

4.The Chairman and Vice-Chairman proposed that Paula Ferris or a representative of Braunton Countryside Centre should be co-opted on to the Forum. The members agreed this.

5.It was also suggested that a group Friends of Biosphere Reserve should be set up. The Chairman asked that members gave it some consideration. To discuss at the next meeting.

6.Write to MOD/EN requesting a copy of report on grazing trial on Braunton Burrows.

7.Letter to Christie Estates regarding the problem of misuse of the Burrows, with a copy to the MOD.

8.The Chairman requested that every representative at the meeting should go back to their organisations and encourage them to write to the DCC.

(c) AONB:

i.ND AONB Draft strategy and Action Plan:A meeting of the NDCCS Joint Advisory Committee was called for Wed., 24th September, and the Draft Strategy and Action Plan was circulated some days before the Meeting. The object of the meeting was purely to obtain comments on the Plan from the members of the JAC, before amending the Plan and finally circulating it for public consultation on Oct. 18. The Consultation period will end on 5thDec.

ii. A further meeting of the JAC is scheduled for Wed.,7th Jan. 2004 at which the revised plan will be considered.

iii.The Plan will then be formally adopted, published and lodged with DEFRA by 31st.March 2004.

Copies of the plan could be obtained from Andy Bell at NDCCS. This is an important Plan for the future of North Devon and the Biosphere Reserve. However, the Biosphere Reserve was not even included on the JAC Agenda.

Action;It was decided to set up a sub-committee to discuss this plan on 24 Nov and to submit a formal response.

Forum Outing 2004 The Chairman suggested that the Annual Outing  should be a day on the Biosphere Reserve. She asked that members consider it.

(d) Jet Skis in the Estuary:

After the last meeting the Chairman, as requested, had written to the jetskiers to remind them of their undertaking to press forward with forming a club to self regulate their sport. A copy of this letter was included to members with the Agenda.

The Chairman reported that there had been no feed back from the jetskiers but Ashley Black was  in attendance at the meeting and would speak on behalf of the jetskiers.

Following the Jet Ski meeting on 9th. June, the Chief Executive of Torridge District Council, Trevor Smale, had prepared a report on the Jet Ski Meeting for his Development and Trading Services Committee on 15th, July 2003.

The Recommendation was:

 “The Committee is recommended to support the self-regulation process for jet skiers in the estuary and plan for its implementation in time for the 2004 season. This recommendation was passed unanimously.”

A Handout of the report and recommendation was circulated to members.

Report of Ashley Black:

Ashley Black reported that moves had been made to form a club of Water users but the  Caesar Thunder Cat owners had decided to form a club of their own.

The proposed jet ski club would restrict numbers, but 4 people only, all jetskiers, were interested in joining. He said that he belonged to the Chivenor club which had strict rules and demands.

One of the problems he was encountering was that the “stand up”jetskis found it difficult to obtain insurance which was one of the conditions of the proposed licence.

He went on to explain his findings of a personal survey of craft on the estuary. He said that he was alarmed at how many powered craft users are not insured.

He put forward the suggestion that powered craft users should only be allowed to launch if licensed from the Council, then the licence money should be used to police the estuary.

The Chairman is to report back to TDC about what had been said and Jon Turner to take it back to NDDC. The Chairman asked that Ashley Black made his own approach, in writing , to John Sunderland NDDC and Trevor Smale TDC.

It was pointed out that a sign at Bank End, Bideford was required to stop launchings there.

Action: The Chairman said that she would inform TDC.

NDDC Northern Rural Area Committee is due to debate jetskis at a forthcoming  meeting  Jon Turner reported that a task team is to be set up. Jetskis will form part of their agenda and they will meet in the very near future but it will not be a public meeting.

The Next Meeting with the Jet Skiers will be on Monday, 26th January 2004 at the Civic Centre.

(e) Website: It is now up and running. The Chairman pointed out what a wonderful job Paul Fronteras has done.

 The Website address is www.ttef.co.uk  Paul Fronteras said that if anyone wanted  the password for e-mailing, Rose Day had it.

(f) Downstream Bridge:The Chairman had not been able to obtain much real information on this matter, except that Mr. Bown had gone to appeal.

Jon Turner reported that Mr. Bown was given leave to appeal to the House of Lords who refused him leave to appeal to Europe.

Tim Jones added information to the matter of the appeal. He said that he had received the latest report of the National Wetland Bird Survey for 2000-01. It showed that no one species occurred in numbers high enough to qualify the T&T Estuary for Special Protection Area (SPA) Status under the EU Bird Directive.

Jon Turner said that things were already on the move and the project start date is early 2004.

John Breeds said that he had been requested to do a reptile survey at Lake with a view to moving some reptiles to Braunton Burrows when hedges were removed.

(g). Appledore and Bideford Quay Walls: Spence Seaman informed the meeting that Meetings were taking place with the insurers and TDC. Mr. Buxton-Smith(EA) and Halcrows are prepared to attend the next meeting of the Forum to do a presentation on their new proposals.

Action:The Chairman is to write to confirm this and formally invite them to attend the AGM. Also she asked that the Forum be informed when planning permission was applied for.

 

4.URGENT MATTERS brought forward by the Chairman: None.

 

5. YELLAND QUAY:

Victoria wharf site –The planning permission, which has been partly implemented is still extant.

Ashbeds – capping continues though at a slow rate due to problems of supply of suitable material

Power Station. The Chairman had received a letter from NDDC to say that the application to the Secretary of State for Energy under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 for the Erection of a Power Station at the former Power Station Site at West Yelland has been withdrawn, and will no longer be considered by the Local Planning Authority. As yet there is no news on the Greenhouses.

 

6. CONSULTATIONS:

Draft Supplementary Planning Guidance on Provision of Public Open Space, Sport and Recreation. Copies of this from NDDC or on www.northdevon.gov.uk. This consultation runs until Fri, 31st. October 2003.

Action:Members to send any comments to the Chairman before this date.

 

7. CORRESPONDENCE:

(a)   A letter from Mr. Chris Hassall concerning the Rolle Canal and the Rolle Canal Society.

A Handout of the letter explaining this fascinating new project was handed out at the meeting.

Action:The Chairman to write to Mr. Hassall inviting him along to the next meeting to give a presentation.

(b)   A letter from Mrs J.E. Flanagan, concerning an application to the Bideford  Manor  Court  2001 re. signage and speed limits on the River Torridge at Bideford. A Handout was available at the meeting.

(c)   Action: The Chairman agreed to send Mrs. Flanagan a copy of all Forum’s correspondence on the matter.

(d)   Tarka Country Visitor 2003.

(e)   Devon  Countryside Matters – News and views from CPRE Devon.

(f)    South West Newsletter of Institution of Civil Engineers.

(g)   Eclipse: Internet @ work.

(h)   Tarka Agenda 21 Annual Gathering-November 20th 2003 from 6p.m. at 5, Caddsdown Industrial Park, Bideford.

(i)     Waterlevel- SWW Newsletter.

 

8.AGENDA ITEMS for the next Meeting:

 The Appledore and Bideford Quay Walls – Mr. Buxton-Smith, EA and Halcrow.

 The Rolle Canal – Mr.Hassall.

 

9. ANY OTHER BUSINESS:

 NDDC Nov. 7th. Beach Owners’ Meeting – 10.30.

Launch at Home Farm Marsh by Gaia Trust and Sponsors, looking for volunteers to run site.

Action: The Chairman to contact Gaia to ask if they wish to join the Forum.

Members’ Minutes by e-mail. Discuss at next meeting.

 

10.Date of next Meeting:

                     Monday, 19th. January, 2004 at Bideford Town Hall. 7p.m. AGM.

There being no other business the meeting closed at 9.50 p.m.

 

                               ………………………………………………………..signed.

                                              Chairman.

 

 

 

 

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