Category Archives: Exmoor National Park news

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.”

EXMOOR ARCHAEOLOGY FORUM

This year’s Exmoor Archaeology Forum will focus on Exmoor’s historic buildings and will be looking at the rich built heritage through recording, conservation and development projects. The Forum is on Saturday 15 October 10.30am to 4.30pm in Brushford Village Hall (TA22 9AH).

Presentations will include the results of new investigations into the historic settlements of Dunster, Dulverton and Porlock, including projects by Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, the Time Team Dig Village project at Dunster and excavations in advance of development at the Luttrell Arms Hotel.

Rob Wilson-North, conservation manager at Exmoor National Park, says: “In addition to the above, we will be comparing the evidence of our medieval buildings from excavation at Ley Hill and standing building recording at Holnicote.

With items on mills and water power plus climate change and historic signposts, it promises to be a fascinating day, so if you have an interest in historic buildings or would just like to know a bit more about them do book your place and join us.”

Speakers include Claire Fear, Bryn Morris, Richard Parker, Isabel Richardson, Martin Watts and staff from Exmoor National Park.

The Forum costs £16 per person including lunch. Advance booking is essential and spaces are limited; to book online visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk and search for ‘archaeology forum’. Booking forms are also available from National Park Centres in Dunster, Dulverton and Lynmouth or by post by telephoning 01398 323665.

PHOTO: Courtesy ENPA

#SELFTEA ON EXMOOR

This Summer Miles Tea and Coffee is working with the National Park to promote the areas beautiful scenery through an interactive social media campaign.

As ‘Pokémon Go’ takes the nation by storm, Miles and Exmoor National Park are making brighter moments in the warm West Country through social media.

The campaign is to encourage visitors to take a ‘selfie’ on Exmoor with a locally blended Miles cuppa and post it on social media. Simply tag Miles and Exmoor National Park on your post and use the hashtag ‘#SelfTea’! A winner will be selected at the end of the summer and receive a selection of Miles products.

Sue Windley, Marketing Officer at Exmoor National Park, said ‘Miles Tea & Coffee have been great supporters of our donation scheme, CareMoor for Exmoor, so we jumped at the chance for a fun way to help promote the company and CareMoor at the same time. When you talk to anyone at Miles Tea & Coffee, it’s easy to see how the landscape of Exmoor has inspired them; the care and attention they take in producing lovely tasting drinks shines through everything they do. So we want as many people to join in and take a #SelfTea on Exmoor!”

Miles Tea & Coffee blend tea and coffee daily. Their best-known products are West Country Original tea blend, Bright and Breezy coffee and Heavenly Hot Chocolate. It is hoped this campaign will reach over 50,000 people. To find out more about participating visit the Miles or Exmoor National Park websites.

PHOTO: by Channel Training, Minehead.

NATIONAL PARK CHAMPIONS CELEBRATED

CareMoor for Exmoor™ has raised in excess of £60,000 over the last ten years through contributions from visitors and businesses within Exmoor National Park to support important conservation and access work.

CareMoor champions and National Park Partner businesses met at the Lynmouth Pavilion National Park Centre recently to celebrate the partnerships that have been developed between visitors, businesses and the National Park Authority in keeping Exmoor special.

“Partnership working is essential to keeping Exmoor Special given it is a living and working landscape,” commented the National Park’s Sustainable Economy Manager, Dan James.  “We are indebted to all those that help contribute to this special area.  Recently the Authority held a ‘Get Involved’ event celebrating all that are individual volunteers achieve.  This particular event was opportunity to thank those businesses and organisations that are helping us through our CareMoor fundraising scheme and Park Partner scheme.”

CareMoor encourages those that enjoy Exmoor to make small contributions towards the upkeep of the area through the businesses that they use.  Over 50 businesses and organisations across the National Park currently take part with some raising hundreds of pounds a year for CareMoor including accommodation providers, information centres, tour operators and activity providers.  Projects supported have ranged from habitat management to the Porlock Marsh boardwalk installed last year.

The National Park Partner scheme was launched last year to recognise and reward those businesses and organisations that place the National Park at the heart of their operations ensuring they are contributing positively to the area.  Since then almost 20 businesses have joined with each of them, demonstrating their commitments to working together for Exmoor.

Dan James continued, “National Park Partners and CareMoor supporters are great examples of businesses that recognise the value of the National Park and its high quality environment as a key driver for the economy, and therefore invest time and resources into helping look after it.”

Peter Larcombe who runs West Hollowcombe Farm cottages, a self-catering business located in Hawkridge, has been a CareMoor supporter since 2007 and raises several hundred pounds most years. He said, “It is a great scheme: my guests are drawn to the area due to the special nature of Exmoor and in return are happy to make contributions towards its upkeep.  Most individual donations are relatively small but collectively they add up to something very significant.  My hope is that more businesses will join this scheme so that projects which would not otherwise be undertaken are properly financed.”

Philip Kiberd, funding officer, said: “We reviewed the CareMoor scheme last year and as a result have recently introduced new branding , promotional materials and a suite of resources to help ensure the scheme can maximise its potential.  If each visitor to the area donated just £1 we’d be raising over £2m a year towards important conservation and access work.  We are currently targeting donations at Rights of Way improvements, small grants for traditional hedgerows and restoration of the historic landscape at Ashcombe gardens in Simonsbath.

“If anyone is interested in becoming a CareMoor supporter or National Park Partner please do get in touch with me on 01398 322237or email: pkiberd@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk.”

EXMOOR RIGHTS OF WAY VOLUNTEERS SHORTLISTED FOR AWARD

The efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers who help look after Exmoor’s rights of way, have been recognised after being shortlisted for the Campaign for National Parks Park Protector Awards 2016.

Park Protector Awards recognise, reward and celebrate exceptional projects or individuals that have made a lasting contribution to the protection, restoration or conservation of the National Parks of England and Wales.  The awards are open to groups or individuals who are delivering projects, campaigns, or activities in one or more of the National Parks in England and Wales and the prize is a £2,000 bursary to develop the project.

The volunteer Path Watcher’s scheme was set up by staff from Exmoor National Park Authority’s Access and Recreation Team and plays a vital role in ensuring Exmoor’s paths are well cared for and that any issues are reported and resolved quickly.  To date the 12 volunteers covering 15 parishes have surveyed over 300km of paths.  The benefits to the community are enormous making paths easily navigable for everyone in the local community and visitors alike, ensuring hazards or dangers are reported swiftly to the authority’s Field Services Team.  Path Watchers report, refresh way-marks and carry out minor repairs to gates and signs.  They also receive ongoing training for their role and recently got to learn more about all-terrain mobility Trampers (pictured) which helped them understand more about issues particular to individuals with limited mobility.

National Park rights of way support officer, Ceri Rapsey, who helps coordinate the volunteer Path Watchers says, “They are so passionate about making Exmoor’s rights of way the best in the UK and are constantly thinking of innovative ways of improving their surveying and maintaining rights of way for the enjoyment of others.  We’re thrilled their enthusiasm and dedication has been recognised.”

Results will be announced soon and the winner will be invited to attend the award ceremony at the House of Commons in October 2016.

Jackie Kiberd, Project Coordinator for Get Involved at Exmoor National Park Authority, said, “Path Watchers has proved an incredibly successful scheme and although we’re not looking for additional Path Watchers just now, there are many other ways in which people can get involved across Exmoor.

“Volunteering is fun, it’s a great way to meet new people and learn new skills.  We advertise a whole range of opportunities on the Get Involved pages of our website for a wide range of organisations across Exmoor.  So whether you’ve got a few hours or a few days to offer, whatever your interest, there’s something there for you.” www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/get-involved/latest-volunteering-roles-and-opportunities