Category Archives: Exmoor National Park news

BIG ADVENTURE DAY AT HADDON HILL THIS WEDNESDAY

Everyone is welcome to come and join in The Haddon Hill Big Adventure on Wednesday 12 April from 10am to 4pm. Hosted by Exmoor National Park with help from volunteers, it will be the first Big Adventure of 2017.

There will be a chance to explore the natural world with family friendly games and activities lasting all day, including bush-craft skills nature art activities including soil printing and picture making. There will also be scavenger hunts and species identification with the Exmoor Natural History Society.

Haddon Hill is a wide open space with plenty of room for everyone and there are toilets and parking available on site. The event is free, but donations to CareMoor for Exmoor, the National Park Authority’s donation scheme will be welcome,  the scheme supports vital conservation and access work that might otherwise not happen.

National Park Ranger Adam Vasey says: “This year at Haddon, in addition to the usual range of fun activities, we’re setting up a treasure hunt trail those families who complete the trail there will be a prize draw at 2pm where you can win some of our new Big Adventure T-shirts.”

Adam continued: “We’ve got a lot on offer this year with our Big Adventure events and, due to popular demand, we’re running four Family Campouts throughout the year. That will give both locals and visitors alike a chance to camp on Exmoor in some amazing locations.

“Don’t worry if you haven’t camped before, the experience is very suitable for novice/new campers, there’s more information on our website or come along to Haddon Hill and ask us some questions.”

For details of hundreds of events across Exmoor this year visit:  www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/events

PHOTO by Steve Guscott

HAVE YOU HEARD A CUCKOO YET?

Have you heard a cuckoo yet? If so Exmoor National Park Authority would love to hear from you. Through Exmoor Wild Watch 2017 the National Park is monitoring cuckoo sightings this spring and summer.

Last year on Exmoor, the first cuckoo was heard on 12 April, so it’s time to start listening for their distinctive call – or perhaps be lucky enough to spot one of these charismatic birds whose appearance can be mistaken for a sparrow hawk when in flight. Traditionally, good places to hear cuckoos on Exmoor include Croydon Hill, Alcombe Common, Ley Hill and Webber’s Post.

Cuckoos are migratory birds which visit the UK during the breeding season between March and July after spending the winter in South Africa. Survey data suggest that across the UK cuckoo numbers dropped nearly 50% between 1995 and 2012, and they are a species that remain on the “red list” meaning they are of conservation concern.

On Exmoor, cuckoo populations are doing quite the opposite to what we see nationally. Despite their decline across the UK, populations on Exmoor are thriving. The latest Breeding Bird Survey (2014) highlighted a promising an 82% increase in cuckoo abundance across the National Park, since the previous survey in 2008.

Ali Hawkins, conservation officer (wildlife) at Exmoor National Park says:“Exmoor Wild Watch is an opportunity for everyone to join us in finding out more about some of the species that are characteristic of Exmoor. This year we would love to hear from you if you see any of the following species: cuckoo, dormouse, golden ringed dragonfly, kestrel, Atlantic grey seal, red kite, grey wagtail, red admiral, adder and tree bumblebee.

“You can record your sightings by visiting www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/exmoor-wildwatch where you can also get involved by joining a Wild Watch training event.”

Spotter guides and a family wildlife leaflet can be picked up at National Park Centres at Dulverton, Lynmouth and Dunster. The cuckoo features on the front of the Moorland Birds of Exmoor National Park pocket guide which is available free of charge from National Park Centres at Dulverton, Dunster and Lynmouth. 

Photo by Chris Triggs

BIG ADVENTURE DAY COMING UP!

Everyone is welcome to come and join in The Haddon Hill Big Adventure on Wednesday 12 April from 10am to 4pm. Hosted by Exmoor National Park with help from volunteers, it will be the first Big Adventure of 2017.

There will be a chance to explore the natural world with family friendly games and activities lasting all day, including bush-craft skills nature art activities including soil printing and picture making. There will also be scavenger hunts and species identification with the Exmoor Natural History Society.

Haddon Hill is a wide open space with plenty of room for everyone and there are toilets and parking available on site. The event is free, but donations to CareMoor for Exmoor, the National Park Authority’s donation scheme will be welcome – the scheme supports vital conservation and access work that might otherwise not happen.

National Park Ranger Adam Vasey says: “This year at Haddon, in addition to the usual range of fun activities, we’re setting up a treasure hunt trail those families who complete the trail there will be a prize draw at 2pm where you can win some of our new Big Adventure T-shirts.”

Adam continued: “We’ve got a lot on offer this year with our Big Adventure events and, due to popular demand, we’re running four Family Campouts throughout the year. That will give both locals and visitors alike a chance to camp on Exmoor in some amazing locations.

“Don’t worry if you haven’t camped before, the experience is very suitable for novice/new campers, there’s more information on our website or come along to Haddon Hill and ask us some questions.”

For details of hundreds of events across Exmoor this year visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/events

SOUTH WEST COAST PATH RHODODENDRON CLEARANCE

More than a one and a half kilometres of dense rhododendron has been cleared from Glenthorne to Wingate Combe on the South West Coast Path, thanks to a partnership between Exmoor National Park and the South West Coast Path Association.

The work was undertaken by Mike Bowden from Lyn Valley Contractors and it took a five-man team seven days to clear the rhododendron, which in three places had formed large tunnels along an important stretch of the Coast Path.

National Park Ranger Adam Vasey said: “We’re working hard, in partnership with the South West Coast Path Association and local landowners, to improve long stretches of the Coast Path.  This section of path was heavily overgrown with rhododendron, making it difficult for our maintenance teams to keep it open.  By clearing back one and half kilometres of dense growth we’ve opened up sea views and widened the path, making it more accessible.

“We are grateful to the South West Coast Path Association for sharing the cost of this work and look forward to further joint working in the future.”

 

THREE DAYS LEFT TO RESPOND TO CHANGES IN THE EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK LOCAL PLAN

Last month Exmoor National Park Authority agreed to consult on changes to the Exmoor National Park Local Plan between 13 January and 24 February – so there are just a few days left to respond if you haven’t already and would like to.

These changes include ‘Main Modifications’, which the Planning Inspector Roger Clews considers are needed to make the plan sound following on from the hearing sessions held in July 2016. The changes relate to a number of areas of the plan including the natural and historic environment, minerals, renewable energy, housing and employment.

As a result of new evidence relating to projected housing need, further changes to Section 6 of the Local Plan “Achieving a Thriving Community” are also being consulted on. As these particular changes have not been the subject of previous consultation or discussion at the hearing session, a separate consultation is required.

Comments can only relate to the specific changes identified and cannot repeat previous representations that may have been made or suggest further changes to the Plan.

National Park Authority Deputy Chairman for Planning, Nick Holliday, said ,“I am pleased that the Exmoor National Park Local Plan has progressed through the examination to this stage. I would ask anyone who is interested to comment on the changes.”

The Inspector will consider all representations received and whether any further steps are required before issuing his report on the soundness and legal compliance of the Local Plan. If the Inspector finds the Local Plan sound it will be formally adopted by the Authority and be used to determine planning applications for development within the National Park.

Details of the consultations relating to the changes to the Local Plan can be viewed on the Authority’s website at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk, together with the sustainability appraisal, and other supporting documentation. Reference copies are also available to view during normal office hours at the Exmoor National Park Authority Offices at Exmoor House, Dulverton, West Somerset Council offices in Williton and the North Devon Council office at Lynton House, Barnstaple.

Further information about the consultations and examination process and timetable will be made available via the Authority’s website as it becomes available.

PHOTO: by the late Brian Pearce

DORMOUSE APPEAL SUCCESS

Exmoor National Park’s CareMoor for Exmoor Winter Appeal to raise funds for dormouse boxes and monitoring has been a great success with more than £4,000 being raised.

National Park funding officer Philip Kiberd said: “The figure raised exceeded our expectations and we’d really like to thank everyone who donated to the Winter Appeal which has raised so much for dormouse conservation on Exmoor. It’s been a very successful campaign and we are extremely grateful for the many generous donations.

“Funds received are great boost for the dormouse on Exmoor and will hopefully go a long way to ensuring the species thrives within the National Park. We will be starting working at the beginning of January surveying old boxes and purchasing new ones to install over the spring so they are ready for the summer.”

Anyone who would like to become a volunteer dormouse surveyor should visit the Get Involved page on the National Park website: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/get-involved The first volunteer days are on 4, 5, and 6 January 2017 so there’s still time to get involved.

Thousands of pounds have been raised through CareMoor over the last year by local businesses and those that have enjoyed Exmoor. As a result CareMoor has been able to support a range of nature, heritage and access projects across the National Park, that wouldn’t otherwise have happened.

Donations to CareMoor for Exmoor are welcome online – search for Caremoor on the National Park website or you can donate by cheque to (payable to Exmoor National Park (CareMoor)), Exmoor House, Dulverton, Somerset TA22 9HL or at any National Park Centre.

NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE FOR EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK AUTHORITY

Exmoor National Park Authority has appointed Sarah Bryan as their new Chief Executive, after a rigorous selection process with a national advertising campaign resulting in 70 applicants.

Sarah has been Head of Conservation and Access at the Authority for four years and brings a wealth of experience of National Parks and has a strong background in landscape management and conservation.

Andrea Davis, Chairman of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “The Authority has always worked very closely with local communities and Sarah will continue the strong relationships that have been forged with farmers, landowners all those who live and work on Exmoor.

“I am confident that Sarah will lead the Authority successfully through the potentially challenging times ahead and raise the profile of Exmoor National Park as one of Britain’s most beautiful protected landscapes.”

Sarah will be taking up her new role on 3 January 2017.

WHAT MAKES EXMOOR SPECIAL? – SURVEY

What do you think makes Exmoor National Park special? Do you think these special qualities are changing – for the better, or worse?  Are there particular challenges facing the National Park over the next few years?

Exmoor National Park Authority is seeking people’s views on these important questions to help shape the next Partnership Plan for Exmoor. This is a key document which will set out the ambitions for how the National Park will be looked after over the next five years and will guide the work of Exmoor National Park Authority and our partners.

If you would like to have your say, please submit your views by filling in the survey – it should take no more than ten minutes to complete.

If you would like to be in with the chance of winning a lovely hamper of Exmoor produce, then please provide some contact details at the end of the survey.

CAROLINE QUENTIN SEES THE DELIGHTS OF EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK & GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR GROUPS TO VISIT

At the invitation of Exmoor National Park Authority, Caroline Quentin, president of the charity Campaign for National Parks, recently spent a day in Exmoor learning more about the Authority’s work to get more youngsters visiting.

Caroline and her family live locally and frequently visit the National Park. However, this was a special occasion to visit the Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning and Simonsbath, where a community-led initiative is considering future uses for a group of historic buildings.

Caroline said, “I had a wonderful day in Exmoor National Park, learning more about the ways the Authority are engaging with young people at the Pinkery Centre and the fascinating heritage project taking place in Simonsbath. The day was a fantastic introduction to being president of Campaign for National Parks.”

She joined as president of the Campaign for National Parks because of her admiration of these beautiful landscapes. However, Caroline has also argued that National Parks should not be “pickled in aspic”, with her dearest wish being that “schoolchildren would think of their nearest National Park as their own playground, classroom and garden.”

Exmoor National Park is firm family favourite and surveys have shown that over 80% of visitors return to enjoy its unique blend of large areas of open moorland and woodland, spectacular coastline and pretty towns and villages.

Caroline Quentin was joined by Andrea Davis, chairman of Exmoor National Park Authority, Janette Ward, vice chair of Campaign for National Parks and Rachel Thomas, chairman of the Exmoor Society.

PHOTO: Andrea Davis, chairman of Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) with Caroline Quentin, President of Campaign for National Parks (CNP). Steve Guscott/ENPA

The Campaign for National Parks is the only national charity dedicated to campaigning to protect and promote all the 13 National Parks of England and Wales.

National Parks are inspiring and breathtaking areas of our country. They are part of our cultural heritage, are important for wildlife, contain beautiful landscapes and benefit the nation. They are living and working landscapes and more than 100 million people visit the Parks in England and Wales each year.

Campaign for National Parks works with a wide variety of people and organisations, representing shared concerns, views and voices. We come together to address issues affecting National Parks and take action to keep these beautiful places safe.
For more information visit www.cnp.org.uk.

The Pinkery Centre is owned and run by Exmoor National Park Authority and provides a unique residential experience right in the heart of the old Royal Hunting Forest of Exmoor. The centre has provided unforgettable experiences for young people since 1969 and continues to work with teachers to ensure that every new generation is inspired by the landscape and atmosphere of Exmoor National Park.

The Pinkery Centre also provides accredited training courses in a number of outdoor activities as well as offering special interest courses throughout the year. For more information visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/learning/pinkery-centre.

Help to visit Exmoor National Park

Exmoor National Park Authority is offering small grants to groups that have not been to Exmoor before or have limited opportunities to enjoy what is special about the National Park due to lack of finances.

Grants of up to £1000 per group are available to support a visit. Groups would be expected to raise a minimum of 20% towards the costs of their trip. Applications are particularly encouraged from youth organisations, disabled users, BME (black and minority ethnic) communities and groups based in urban areas.

Tim Braund, Head of Information & Communication at Exmoor National Park says: “Exmoor is an amazing place and we are aware that not everyone has the opportunity to enjoy a visit so if you know of a group that would benefit from some help do get in touch with us on 01398 323665 or email: tpbraund@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk 

For more information visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/living-and-working/grants-and-funding

EXMOOR RURAL HOUSING NETWORK LAUNCHED

A new Exmoor Rural Housing Network, launched by Exmoor National Park, has commissioned Devon Communities Together to work across the National Park to bring people together – local people who are looking for a home in the right place that they can afford and those who have some land or a redundant building or holiday let that could be used in this way.

It can be very difficult for people living on Exmoor to find homes that are affordable and close to work and family.  House prices are high and average wages low. Unless local people are able to live and work on Exmoor, village community life will suffer and enabling the provision of more affordable housing in Exmoor has been a long-term priority for the National Park.

As well as making local-needs housing a primary aim of Exmoor’s planning policies, in 2002 the National Park brought together housing authorities (the district councils), housing associations and other agencies to form the Rural Housing Project with the main objective of helping to bring forward new schemes.  The Project had a good deal of success and between 2006 and 2012, more than 100 new affordable homes have been provided in the National Park for local people in housing need.

The majority of these new homes benefitted from public funding from the Homes & Communities Agency but, unfortunately, since 2010 government has withdrawn the vast majority of support for rural housing.  These changes, combined with local government cuts and changes in the rules imposed on housing associations, led to partners having to withdraw their funding support leading to the eventual winding up of the Rural Housing Project in 2015.

“At the National Park we share the very real concerns about the need for suitable affordable housing being expressed by groups like Exmoor Young Voices and Exmoor Uprising,” said Dr Nigel Stone, Chief Executive at Exmoor National Park. “Unfortunately, Government has cut funding, made changes to the planning system, and made various impositions on housing associations, that have combined to make it extremely difficult to bring forward new housing proposals in the most rural areas, like Exmoor.”

He continued, “That is why we have taken the initiative of bringing together a number of Exmoor based organisations with an interest in housing to form a new project to help address the need for local housing.  We are looking for an ‘Exmoor solution’ to an Exmoor problem that will explore new ways forward including charitable organisations, potential new Community Land Trusts, and possible ways to help people meet their own housing needs through self-build.”

The Rural Housing Network will be building a register of people who are looking for alternative housing so that there is a better understanding of the locations and type of housing that is needed.  To help with this work it will be recruiting and training ‘Local Housing Contacts’ to act as a link within communities and help signpost households in housing need to the appropriate organisations.

Exmoor Rural Housing Coordinator, Sue Southwell, says, “I will be recruiting and training Local Housing Contacts who will help signpost households in housing need to the appropriate organisations so if you are interested in becoming a Contact or if you are in housing need within the National Park, do get in touch with me for a chat on 01392 248919*121 or email me: sue@devoncommunities.org.uk. All contacts and enquiries will be dealt with in the utmost confidentiality.”