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October 2004

MINUTES for the Meeting held on Monday, 4th October, 2004, at the Civic Centre, Barnstaple.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Mrs. R. Day, Chairman, (Instow PC and CPRE), Mr. T. Pratt, Vice Chairman, (NDYC), Mr. P. Carter, Mr. A. Leyman, (EA), Mr.J.Daniel, (TT Nets), Capt. P. Fronteras, (Westleigh PC), Mr .P. Hammond, (Jetski &PWC Club), Mr.T.Squire, (Waterski Club), Mr .J. Bell, (Northam TC), Mr. A Bell, Ms. L. Blanchard, (NDCCS), Ms. B. Haddrill, (DWT), Cpl D. Perkins, MBE, (RMB Chivenor), Mr. P. Mullen, Dr. J. Sharp, (Fremington PC), Mrs. W. Dale, (RNLI), Mr. J. Ramsden, (Barnstaple & Dist. Conservation Soc.), Mr. J. Breeds, (MoD), Mr. C. Hassall, (Rolle Canal Soc.), Mr. J. Diamond, (English Nature), Mr .J. Hartnoll, (Braunton Marsh Inspectors), Mrs A. Humphris, Hon. Sec.

The Chairman introduced Lt. Col. M. Portman, Officer in Command of Fremington Training Camp.

1.APOLOGIES for ABSENCE: Ms. J. Thompson, (Gaia Trust), Ms. S. Colquohoun, (Westcountry Rivers Trust), Mr. T. Jones, (Devon Birds), Mr. W. Isaac, (Bideford TC), Mr J. Turner, (NDDC), Mr. A. Windsor, (Barnstaple TC), Mrs. M. Shapland, (Braunton PC), Mr. R. Butler, (UK MAB), Mr. M. Davies, (RSPB), Mr. D. Edgcombe, (NDCCS AONB Project Officer)

Representation from Braunton Countryside Centre:
The Chairman had received the resignation of Mrs. Paula Ferris as the representative for the Braunton Countryside Centre. The Chairman is to write a letter of thanks to Paula from the Forum, as her help has been invaluable. John Ramsden reported that Mr. John Dare would probably now represent the Countryside Centre in the future, but he would, himself, act as messenger in the meantime.

Torridge District Council Liaison Officer:
Following the departure of Mr. Smale, the Chief Executive of Torridge District Council, the Forum has been left without a TDC Liaison Officer. The Chairman had contacted Paul Green at TDC to ask for another Liaison Officer to be appointed. It was decided that the Chairman should again make contact with TDC about this matter, to ensure that the new Liaison Officer, when appointed, has all the necessary briefing documents.
Also, the Chairman is to make an appointment to see Mr. Heath, the interim Chief Executive of TDC, to introduce herself and inform him of the Forum’s work.

2. PRESENTATION: The North Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. By Linda Blanchard (AONB Officer).
Linda Blanchard began by explaining that Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) became a statutory designation in 1959, as England’s finest landscapes. The North Devon AONB area runs along a coastal strip from Combe Martin, cutting across the end of the Estuary, and running along to the Cornish border. Internationally, the designation is on the same level as a National Park
The North Devon statutory designation, which is primarily of landscape and areas of natural beauty, is concerned with the conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty of the area.
The introduction of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 meant that there was greater central and local government commitment and duty, with better resources, to develop positive action. Also there was a Statutory requirement for a Management Plan.
A 20-year vision involves “Working together to make the North Devon AONB a place where land use and the natural environment evolve sympathetically and harmoniously for the benefit of wildlife and the people that live in, work in and visit the area”
The ND AONB is the most spectacular part of the UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve. It is a fragile environment with a vulnerable economy, which is under pressure from tourism and other development.
The Management Plan has a number of Planned Themes:
1. Landscape and Land Management – To conserve and enhance the landscape, wildlife, geology and cultural heritage.
2. Community Participation – Communities will be encouraged to develop their projects and programmes for the benefit of the AONB.
3. Economy – to encourage a thriving economy that is compatible with the aims of the AONB.
4. Services and Transport – To sustain and support services and transport that meet the needs of the local communities, the visitors and the AONB.
5. Recreation and Access – To improve the opportunities for recreation and access, such as the Coastal Path etc.
6. Cross-cutting themes – such as planning and development, sustainable development and information and education.
The work of the AONB Team and the NDCCS in 2004-5 will involve promotion, planning, community involvement, interpretation, State of the Environment Information, and the Website.
The proposed AONB Community Project – The AONB Team will work with existing volunteer groups to collect State of the Environment information on wildlife and habitat, historic monument condition and hedgerows etc. A co-ordinator will be appointed and experts will be paid to provide training in this 2-year project.
The Chairman thanked Linda Blanchard for her presentation.

It was decided that the Chairman should write to congratulate Richard Butler (DCC), on receiving the Bowland Award for services to AONB in Devon.
The Chairman reported that she would be attending the AONB Joint Advisory Committee meeting on 13th October, on behalf of the Forum.

3. MINUTES of PREVIOUS MEETING on 5th July, 2004:
Peter Mullen proposed and Tim Squire seconded the adoption of the Minutes, and members voted unanimously to adopt them.

4. MATTERS ARISING from the Minutes:
(a) Estuary Report:

Update: 12th. July 2004.
New post of Biosphere Reserve Project Co-ordinator: The Chairman had written a letter of support to DCC on behalf of the Forum.

Crab Tile Code of Conduct:
Copies of the leaflet were sent out to Members for comments. No comments were received.

Climate Change Conference:
Andy Bell reported that there would be a major Climate Change Conference in Exeter in late February, 2005.

Skills Audit:
The Chairman reported that there had not been a huge response to this initiative, but the forms she had received had been passed on to Andy Bell.

Update 3rd. September, 2004:

WEA Course: Introduction to the Ecology of Devon’s Wildlife – Tutor: Rod Lawrence:
This Course starts October 6th for seven weeks from 10.00 a.m. until 12.00 midday at the Braunton Countryside Centre.

Devon Living Coasts Conference:
This conference will take place at Kingsbridge Community College on Friday, 22nd. October from 9.30 a.m. to 3.30p.m.

Environment Agency Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy (CAMS) Stakeholder Group Meeting:
Taw and North Devon Streams:
The Chairman was to chair this meeting on Friday, 15th. October 2004. She had been unable to attend the Environment Agency Devon Area Environment Group meeting on Tuesday, 21st. September 2004, as she had been away on holiday. She will be attending the Devon Area Environment Group Conference on Wednesday, 24th. November in Exminster, and will report back to the Forum in due course.

Environment Agency Beach Water Quality Monitoring Reports:
The Chairman had received the latest results of the bathing water monitoring data for Instow, Westward Ho! and Saunton Beaches from the Environment Agency. Copies of these results were handed out to members.
It was noted that all three beaches have passed the Mandatory quality standards, and Westward Ho! seems set to pass the Guideline (Blue Flag) standard.
It appeared that Saunton had failed the Guideline standard. The Chairman had contacted Mr. Gordon Clark at the E.A. who was also puzzled by the Saunton result and was looking into it.
The Chairman hopes to get more information from Mr. Clark at the NDDC Beach Owners’ meeting, which will take place on Friday, 29th October 2004.

Re-seeding of Mussels in the Taw Torridge Estuary:
Paul Carter explained that Mussels taken from Pulleys Ridge had been relayed near the Appledore Lifeboat Slip in order to re-establish the bed that had been harvested a few years previously. It appeared that all was going well.
He also reported that Devon Sea Fisheries, on behalf of the E.A., had produced a consultation paper on the Shellfish Regulating Order, which would go out for public consultation very soon. It was hoped that the Order would be in place early in 2005.

N.D.Y.C. Centenary:
Tony Pratt reported that North Devon Yacht Club is celebrating its Centenary, and a calendar of 100 years of sail on the Estuary has been produced, copies of which can be obtained at the NDYC or Instow Post Office, at £5 each.

Yelland Quay Ashbed Site:
The Chairman had contacted DCC, as she had not received a formal notification of the outcome to the request for a 3-year extension of Condition 1 of the planning agreement, to which the Forum had sent a letter of objection.
Devon County Council replied that the extension has been given for two years, until 31st. August 2006, not 3 years as requested.

Biodegradable Dog Poo Bags:
The Instow parishioner, who wished to see biodegradable dog poo bags made available by NDDC, has now purchased a large supply of these bags, and they can be purchased from Instow Post Office, Johns’ Supermarket and many other outlets in Instow.

New Website for the Taw Torridge Wildfowling Club:

(b) Braunton Burrows UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve:
Andy Bell reported on various projects that were being pursued, especially those that concerned further funding.
- Discover Devon Naturally – Sustainable Tourism
- Haskins Report – Reorganisation of DEFRA
- Devon Rural Network funding for North Devon
- Rural Renaissance – business advice
- Biodiesel recycling
- Coastal Floodplain and Grazing Marsh research
North West Devon Economic Partnership: 2020 Vision:
The Document is in the closing stages of consultation at present. The NWDEP has made the Biosphere Reserve and sustainable development the key economic driver for its vision of the way the economic strategy for the area should develop. The Chairman said that she had responded to the consultation draft. Andy Bell urged members to respond to the consultation in a positive way.
Oceanic Centre: Brunswick Wharf, East the Water, Bideford:
This is a project to be set up by Messrs Gale and Snowdon, Design Architects, in conjunction with North Devon College to provide a complex for the purpose of research, and for exploring and demonstrating man’s interaction with the sea.
It is hoped to produce a foundation degree course, where students would complete 2 years on the Bideford campus, and a final year to be undertaken at Plymouth.
Five tall wharf-type buildings are planned, each generating its own energy from its own resources in water and wind power etc.
Community Planning: Several groups have been set up to work alongside the NDCCS on environmental issues. There are several groups forming the Estuary Alliance, Devon, Appledore and Westward Ho! Have joined together, there is a Bideford group and a Fremington and Barnstaple group. All groups have a representative of the NDCCS attending their meeting. The NDCCS are convening an environmental workshop for the Fremington/Barnstaple group next month and it is hoped that the Barnstaple Forum Rep will attend.
Bideford College now has Science Status and is to work with Braunton Community College on a joint project with a French School that is also within a Biosphere Reserve.
A Water Sports Co-ordinator has been appointed by LEADER+ to work on a trans-national project, which has been set up by LEADER+ and the NDCCS with Donegal, Ireland and Finistere. It is primarily about the surf industry, to include marine awareness, transport to surf areas, sea safety etc.
There was discussion about whether this co-ordinator could assist with the FLC problems. Andy Bell said that it could not but the job description talks about a "holistic approach to watersports development", and talks of "solutions to watersports management concerns". It was left that we would explore this matter further.
Instow Beach: In conjunction with English Nature and with the assistance of the Marines from ATTURM, the NDCCS is to remove excess sand from Instow Beach, and transport it to the north end of Instow Beach. Part of the Beach will have to be closed for some of the time. The fencing in the dunes will also be repaired. It is hoped that the work will begin towards the end of October.
Film: "Seed – The Changing Nature of Rural Environments": This film, which was made as a result of a partnership between the Art in the Landscape Project here in North Devon and Dutch film-makers of North and Middle Zeeland in Holland, is now complete and is being shown by the Beaford Arts Centre.
“Watch Your Mouth” Project: Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund Application: This application was unsuccessful, as the panel was concerned “that the project did not appear to address current issues facing marine aggregates extraction and biodiversity”
UK MAB Meeting:
In Richard Butler’s absence, Andy Bell reported. The meeting was quite brief, as there were two presentations of areas intending to apply for Biosphere Reserve status. One of the Areas was the Somerset Levels, which is looking to Braunton Burrows Biosphere Reserve to assist them in their bid.
UK MAB wants an Education Policy to be adopted nationwide and has requested Braunton Burrows Biosphere Reserve to produce one.
Biosphere Reserve Interpretive Strategy: Richard Butler is to meet Ben Totterdell, (NDCCS), on 13th. October 2004, to discuss the Interpretive Strategy for the Biosphere Reserve.

Braunton Burrows Update: John Breeds.
Report from 5 July 2004 to 4th. October 2004.
The production of the final Report assessing the grazing trials has been delayed. The contractor has furnished a brief resume.
(A copy appears on the TTEF website).
Further Management Issues:
The total cost of operating the Burrows Training Area was £200,000 last financial year.
No grazing was able to take place this summer owing to plant growth being inhibited by two periods of drought.
Rare Species: Adult Small Blue butterflies were not found in either brood this year. Its larval food plant Kidney Vetch was scorched by the drought and grazed hard by rabbits in the colony area.
The UCL student researching vegetation changes in wet slacks has chosen to study Water Germander for her dissertation.
Desmond Meikle, the UK expert on Willows, visited in July and found 6 very rare hybrid willow bushes and one triple hybrid bush.
Research and Monitoring: English Nature carried out its site condition assessment of the main habitats within the Burrows SSSI. The results can be found on EN’s website.
Most of the habitats were found to be in “unfavourable “condition due to an excessive amount of scrub. The grazed area of Soay Plain is “ recovering” (due to the grazing) and within the mown areas the condition of the dry dunes is “maintained” as scrub cover has been reduced to 14%. The dune system is in a “declining” condition due to its scrub cover of nearly 40%. EN considers that grazing is needed to bring the dune system into favourable condition. Water table levels continue to be recorded monthly and despite recent rainfall the levels have not yet risen. Rabbit count numbers remained high through the summer months but have declined recently. The Amber sand-bowl snail has been surveyed and large numbers were found to have colonised the excavations of 1999-2001. Aerial photos were taken on September 16th of the habitat excavations and mown areas.
Biosphere Activities/Education: Various groups have visited the area.
The public walks and talks as publicised through Braunton Countryside Centre, were all well supported. Marine Conservation Society and Devon Wildlife trust volunteers completed a survey of litter collected along a 200m stretch of Saunton Sands on 19th April 2004, as part of the Society’s organised international beach litter survey.
Interpretation: Funding is being sought for updating the obsolete interpretive boards in Sandy Lane and Broadsands Car Parks.
The full report can be viewed on the Forum website .
Lt Col. Michael Portman, MoD. Fremington Camp, reported on the viewpoint of the MOD on the Burrows. He explained three issues: a) Military Training goes on there, b) Conservation - as leaseholders, the MoD is aware of the conservation concerns, and c) Public Access. The MOD has concerns over this issue and they are in talks with Raymond Coldwell of the Christie Estates.

Greater Horseshoe Bats:
James Diamond of English Nature is to give a talk on Friday, 8th. October at 7.30p.m. at Barnstaple Library.
James has worked for EN for 5 years, surveying, monitoring, talking to landowners and encouraging and helping them to manage their land so that it would be attractive to bats. The Greater Horseshoe Bat is one of our rarest bats. There are only two colonies in the UK so the colony in Braunton is vital for the survival of the species.

(c) Fast Leisure Craft in the Taw Torridge Estuary: Update:
Copies of the letter the Chairman sent on Sept. 5th. to both Torridge and North Devon District Councils were sent out with the Agendas. This letter was asking for information on the progress both Councils were making towards setting up a Joint Working Party on this issue. Also with this letter the Chairman enclosed Phil Hammond’s ND Jet Ski & PWC Club report, dated 18th July, and Northam Town Council’s letter to the NDCCS requesting a statutory speed limit over a specific area between Instow and Appledore, and regretting the lack of progress made so far. There had been no response from either Council.
The NDDC Ilfracombe & Northern Rural Area Committee was electing its two members for the Joint Working Party on that very evening.
The Chairman had been unable to arrange class meetings for the Jet Skis/Personal Watercraft Club and for the Ceasar Boat Club due to lack of co-operation.
In order to move forward Tony Pratt proposed action in the form of the following resolution from the Forum to be sent to the two District Councils:
“The Taw Torridge Estuary Forum has done everything in its power (zoning, meetings of fast leisure craft owners, organisation of a voluntary registration scheme, etc.) to find solutions to the ever increasing and ever more dangerous use of the Taw Torridge Estuary by fast leisure craft including rigid inflatable, hover and all other powered craft which often, if not usually, operate without the benefit of third-party insurance. The Forum now urges Torridge and North Devon District Councils to join with the Northern Devon Coast & Countryside Service and with the Forum to work together through a Joint Working Party to address the problems and to arrange some form of control or regulation, including a means of enforcement either on the water or more practically at launch sites. This should be done with sufficient speed to ensure that these measures are in operation before the beginning of next season as, without some form of control, a serious and possibly fatal accident becomes ever more likely.”
This proposal was seconded by Jeremy Bell and carried unanimously by the voting members, (there were four abstentions from non-voting members.)
It was resolved that the Chairman should write to both Councils expressing the disappointment of the Forum, that no replies had been received to the Chairman’s letter of 5th. September 2004, and which informed them that a formal resolution had been passed. A reply was hoped for within two weeks.
It was also proposed by Jeremy Bell, and seconded by Tony Pratt that “If the District Councils failed to reply within the following two weeks, the Chairman was empowered to write a letter to the North Devon Journal containing the Forum’s Resolution”. The proposal was carried unanimously (with four non-voting abstentions).

(d) Appledore Quay Wall:
The Chairman had received a communication from Halcrow explaining that, due to staff changes, there was yet a further delay in giving a presentation on this issue. The spokesperson explained: “We are in the process of agreeing a revised programme and approach for this project, to take into account time needed to carry out additional tasks, including a landscape character and visual impact assessment”
This meeting, to which TDC and a small number of TTEF members involved in this application are invited, is now expected to take place during the week commencing 22nd. November 2004.

5. URGENT MATTERS brought forward by the Chairman:

Barbara Haddrill explained that the MCS is a small national charity organisation, which provides schemes to combat marine pollution.
The Adopt-a-Beach scheme is a community-based project run by the MCS, and eight beaches in this area are involved in the scheme. A group of local volunteers adopt a 100-metre stretch of the beach and collect all litter. The purpose is to establish trends in litter and, therefore, to try and eliminate marine pollution. By involving locals it is hoped that they will take on the responsibility to do something to reduce the problem. 
It is hoped to promote this scheme by increasing awareness of marine pollution by involving more groups and organisations in this area.
The Chairman and Barbara Haddrill are to write in the New Year to Parish Councils in the immediate estuary area, and to other groups not already involved.
The Chairman informed the Forum that Barbara Haddrill is willing to talk to Parish Councils in order to promote this scheme.

Aggregate dredging in Outer Bristol Channel, Area 486.
A summary of this consultation and questionnaire had been sent out with the Agenda.
The area involved is to the south and south west of the Gower Peninsular, between roughly 6 and 12 nautical miles from the Welsh Coast. The entire area is within the Welsh Median Line, marking the Welsh side of the Bristol Channel. This area is opposite Barnstaple/Bideford Bay, and could, therefore, possibly have an impact upon our coast and the estuary.
The Scoping Study for consultation contained a questionnaire, and members assisted in filling out this questionnaire. The Chairman was also asked to list on the questionnaire other organisations within the Estuary, who might wish to be consulted. The full Environmental Statement will be sent out for consultation in due course.
Torridge District Local Plan:
Notification has been received that the Torridge District Local Plan was adopted by Torridge District Council on 9th Sept. 2004.

The Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society: Gardening for Wildlife – Leaflet
Environment Agency: Greener Camping – A Guide for Site Operators – Leaflet
Environment Agency: Guidance on Animal Carcases in Watercourses
Westcountry Rivers Trust: Confluence – Magazine
Environment Agency: Fourth Otter Survey of England 2000-2002
New website for the Taw Torridge Wildfowling Club:

9.AGENDA ITEMS proposed for next meeting:
Coastal Floodplain and Grazing Marsh (Andy Bell - NDCCS)
Permanent Moorings in the Fairway (John Daniel – Taw Torridge Nets)

1. Wendy Dale, RNLI, informed the meeting that Richard Miller, the Lifeboat Operations Manager, was resigning. If anyone knows of someone who would be interested in the post, the RNLI would like to hear from him or her.
2. John Daniel expressed concern of the permanent moorings in the Fairway. There appeared to be more and more vessels there and the matter needs attention.
3. Dave Perkins RMB Chivenor reported that he had come across one vessel moored in a dangerous position, without lights. He had reported it to the Pilot and the matter had been remedied. 

Monday, 17th January 2005 at the Town Hall, Bideford.
There being no other business the meeting closed at 9.35.p.m.