Category Archives: Environment

EXMOOR AND DARTMOOR PROJECTS WANTED FOR 2018 AWARD

Exmoor and Dartmoor projects contributing to our beautiful National Parks could receive a £2,000 boost in recognition of their work thanks to the Campaign for National Parks’ Park Protector Award.

The Award, sponsored by Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust, celebrates the work being done to protect and improve National Parks across England and Wales with the winner receiving a £2,000 bursary and a runner up receiving £500 courtesy of Breedon Group.
Nominations are being invited until Tuesday 31 July. Nominated projects must be seeking to conserve or enhance the biodiversity or a heritage site, improve access to the Parks, or protect an area in a National Park.

Fiona Howie, chief executive of Campaign for National Parks, said: “The Park Protector Award is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate amazing projects happening across the English and Welsh National Parks. The Ramblers Holiday Charitable Trust and Campaign for National Parks urge you to submit a nomination if you know of or are involved in a project doing important work.”

A community science project in the Peak District National Park took the top prize in 2017. The project monitors wildlife in the National Park, looking at the effects of climate change and other issues. Previous winners have included Arun and Rother Connections in the South Downs and Fell Futures in the Lake District.

Find out more: www.cnp.org.uk/news/2018-park-protector-award-searches-its-next-winner

PHOTO: Robbers Briedge by the late Brian Pearce, courtesy of Elaine Pearce

ECO-FRIENDLY PUPILS FUND COACH SUSTAINABILITY PROJECT

Eco-friendly pupils from King’s College recently welcomed to the school the Club Captain of Taunton Rowing Club, Steve Swan.
Steve met with the Head of the King’s Sustainability Strategy, Christina French, to discuss the various sustainability measures implemented across the school and to see how the children could get involved in his latest project: a rainwater-harvesting system at Taunton’s Centre for Outdoor Activities & Community Hub (COACH).

Earlier this month, members of the sustainability group visited the centre, where they took part in an interactive design workshop. Students had the opportunity to audit the building and come up with their own strategies and ideas of how the centre could be more sustainable.

In the coming weeks, King’s pupils will work closely with COACH and Taunton Rowing to construct the rainwater system after donating £500 to help fund the project.

Pictured, left to right: Thomas Newman, Harvey Richard, Steve Swan and Christina French.

PLASTIC FREE DEVON CONSORTIUM FORMED

North Devon is one step closer to becoming a plastic free district, thanks to the formation of a new consortium.

Earlier this month representatives from a number of charities, voluntary groups and organisations met at a workshop hosted by North Devon Council to discuss how they could each contribute towards making North Devon plastic free. They decided that, by working in collaboration, they could provide residents, businesses and visitors with a clear understanding of how to make a practical difference to their coastlines and communities.

The new consortium will work in partnership with Plastic Free North Devon (PFND), a grassroots community movement that uses the framework developed by environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) in their Plastic Free Coastlines campaign. The local community organisation is supported by SAS and The Pickwell Foundation, and recently received additional funding from the Big Lottery Fund and Fullabrook Community Interest Company. It aims to inspire North Devon residents, tourists and businesses to reduce their ‘plastic footprint’ and drastically reduce the consumption of single-use plastic throughout the whole of North Devon, not just the coastal areas.

The consortium will be made up of a number of groups and organisations, including:

•  Plastic Free North Devon
•  North Devon Council
•  North Devon Biosphere
•  North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
•  The National Trust
•  Beaford Arts
•  Barnstaple & District Chamber of Commerce
•  Martin Dorey, founder of the 2 Minute Beach Clean
•  Petroc
•  BeachCare, Keep Britain Tidy
•  Ilfracombe Town Council
•  Beth Newsome from Seadog, representing small food and drink businesses.
North Devon Council’s Executive Member for the Environment, Councillor Rodney Can, says: “I am delighted that we are taking such positive steps towards making our beautiful district plastic free. By working in collaboration with Plastic Free North Devon, and other groups who share our concern about plastic pollution, we will be able to deliver a clear message to the public and businesses on how they can make some positive changes of their own. Plastic pollution is everyone’s problem; we all need to take responsibility for the plastic we use, and how we dispose of it, in order to tackle this global environmental crisis.”

Surfers Against Sewage’s South West regional representative and PFND coordinator, Claire Moodie, says: “The formation of this consortium is an amazing opportunity for the plastic free movement to really gain momentum and take action fast and effectively across the region. The sharing of resources and expertise between the stakeholders involved will help spread the message to every part of North Devon and ensure we move forward together to protect our precious environment. Everyone has the opportunity and responsibility to make a difference – however big or small, every action counts. This campaign is about empowering every community to come together, make their voices heard and start a wave of change.”

Writer and founder of 2 Minute Beach Clean, Martin Dorey, says: “I firmly believe that the only way we’ll solve our plastic crisis is through community, collaboration, people and passion, and this initiative does all this brilliantly. It unites a lot of caring, committed people to work in the best interests of us all.”

The new consortium will be meeting in early May to develop the Plastic Free North Devon action plan.

More information on how you can reduce your consumption of single-use plastics is available on Surfers Against Sewage’s website. To keep up-to-date with Plastic Free North Devon’s news follow their Facebook page.

EXMOOR LAUNCHES NEW PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

Exmoor National Park’s future vision for the next five years was launched today, welcomed by Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Defra Minister for National Parks, in a video address at the Exmoor National Park Authority and Exmoor Society’s joint Spring Conference held in Dulverton Town Hall.

Exmoor National Park’s 2018-2023 Partnership Plan* has been led by Exmoor National Park Authority, with input from around 80 partners, landowners, local communities, organisations and businesses, through a rigorous programme of workshops and meetings. Opinions were also sought through a public survey and key evidence on the Park’s special qualities gathered through the State of the Park Report.

Under the core themes of ‘People, Place, Prosperity’, the Plan sets out key strategies needed to ensure Exmoor’s diverse and beautiful landscapes remain rich in wildlife and history, and that people everywhere have the opportunity to enjoy its special qualities. It also highlights the need to foster a vibrant local economy for Exmoor’s communities by providing new routes for innovation and entrepreneurship, and for increasing rural productivity.

Key priorities include a commitment to maintaining Exmoor as a working living landscape, with farming at its core. Increasing rural productivity through targeted land management schemes, and support to help new and young farmers diversify their farming income and develop rural skills form a vital part of the strategy. This interaction between people and nature has persisted for centuries and is crucial to maintaining the rich array of wildlife and habitats found on Exmoor today.

Increasing opportunities for people to enjoy and get involved in maintaining Exmoor as one of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK is also a mainstay of the Plan. Exmoor’s first rate rights of way network is a shining example of this, with an impressive 96 per cent of routes classed as open and easy to use – the highest of all National Parks.

Work to encourage more people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to enjoy the Park will also continue, following a rise in the number of young people visiting, including over 6,500 students last year alone, and continuing support for local schools through the Authority’s Learning Partners Scheme.

Ensuring local communities thrive through a vibrant local economy is another key ambition. While visitor numbers have been steady over the last five years, the length of time people stay in the park is up by 35 per cent. The report highlights the positive impact this is on the local economy, with the Exmoor tourism industry currently valued at around £115 million.

Challenges for the Park are also addressed, including how best to restore Exmoor’s renowned purple heather moors, which rely on careful management by Exmoor’s hill farmers, along with the Authority and other partners.

In the video address to conference delegates, Lord Gardiner said: “I am delighted to support the launch of the Exmoor National Park Partnership Plan. It sets out an exciting agenda for the next five years.”

Sarah Bryan, chief executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “This Plan is for all those who care about Exmoor: the place, its communities and the benefits the National Park provides to the nation. By providing a framework for working together, we hope it will mean people can continue to be inspired by its extraordinary beauty and sense of place, while supporting those who rely on it for their livelihood to reap the many benefits that National Park status can bring.”

Robin Milton, Chairman of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “We are extremely grateful to our many partners for sharing their views and to the more than 900 people who responded to our public opinion survey, showing just how cherished Exmoor is by so many. At this time of substantial political change and uncertainty, we hope this will allow us to capitalise on this unique chance to help shape Exmoor for future generations, whilst continuing to enrich the local economy and landscapes.”

RECYCLE FOR MID DEVON: PRIMARY SCHOOL DRAWING COMPETITION

Winning entries will have a lorry named after them with their artwork displayed on the vehicle.

Mid Devon District Council is running another exciting competition for all Mid Devon primary school children. They would like children of primary school age to enter a drawing which shows what Mid Devon District Council collects as part of its kerbside blue food caddy collection and/or its subscription-based garden waste collection.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Clive Eginton, said: “We have six new lorries that need names and some lovely artwork. All the lorries have a split body where food and garden waste is collected and stored separately. The drawings should give a positive message to inspire people to recycle their food and garden waste. Food waste sent to landfill doesn’t harmlessly breakdown and as it rots it releases methane – a harmful greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Food waste collected from your blue caddy is processed into energy and fertiliser. Garden waste is made into compost which is excellent to mix with soil to grow fruit and vegetables.”

The drawings need to be A4 in size and landscape, using paint, crayon, chalk or any other type of drawing material, but not photographs, sorry. They can be done in school or at home but schools may wish to submit more than one entry. However, only one entry per pupil will be accepted and  the decision of the judges will be final.

Other than these rules, pupils can use their imagination, so let the creative juices flow! Good luck!!

The competition entry closing date is midnight on Tuesday 8 May 2018 and winning pupils will be notified by Friday 18 May 2018.

All entries must be posted or delivered to:

Mid Devon District Council
Street Scene Services – Recycling Competition
Phoenix House
Phoenix Lane
Tiverton
Devon
EX16 6PP

See the website for full terms and conditions: www.middevon.gov.uk/media/345268/recycling-drawing-comp-2018-tcs.pdf

PIONEERING NEW APPROACHES TO EXMOOR’S INVASIVE SPECIES PROBLEM

Castration and electrocution are two ground-breaking new ways of tackling invasive plant and animal species being trialled in Exmoor National Park, highlighted as part of Invasive Species Week recently.

Japanese and Himalayan Knotweed are two of Britain’s most invasive weeds and they have caused extensive damage to several of Exmoor’s most precious watercourses, such as the Lyn, Heddon and Barle – all Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

A ten-year collaboration between Exmoor National Park Authority, the Environment Agency, Natural England and the National Trust to try to control the problem has proved highly successful, with the plant now being managed across an area the size of six Wembley football pitches, thanks to the support from local landowners.

Exmoor is now among a handful of UK sites where a pioneering new method of control is being trialled, involving electrocuting the weed’s root system. It is hoped the new approach will avoid the need for repeat spraying with herbicides, which can impact the environment, although not nearly so much as the plants themselves.

Elsewhere on Exmoor’s waterways, another non-native invasive species is being dealt a tough blow. An estimated quarter of a million North American signal crayfish inhabit the River Barle, with potentially devastating consequences for our native wildlife.

The River Barle Crayfish Project is now tackling the problem in an innovative new way never before tried outside of captivity – by castrating the larger, more dominant male signal crayfish. After this harmless procedure, they are returned to the river where it is hoped they will continue to outcompete smaller males to control breeding.

Later this year findings are due to be published on the project – which exists as a partnership between Exmoor National Park Authority, the Environment Agency and the River Exe & Tributaries Association.

Ali Hawkins, Wildlife Conservation Officer at Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “It’s great to be trialling innovative new techniques like these that could potentially help with the problem of invasive species on Exmoor, without further damage to our delicate ecosystems.

“Many of the habitats here are protected for their uniqueness and scientific value, so it’s vital that we do all we can to safeguard them from these foreign invaders. We’d love more volunteers to come forward and help us stop the spread by signing up to one of our training days, or reporting sightings of invasive species through our website.”

People wishing to volunteer for these two projects and others like them can find out more at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/get-involved.

SOMERSET WILDLIFE TRUST’S ‘WILDLIFE GARDENS’ BACK FOR A SECOND YEAR

Some of the county’s most beautiful and inspiring wildlife gardens are to open to the public to fundraise for Somerset Wildlife Trust, and inspire us to use our own gardens to help wildlife on our own doorstep. These include gardens close to Greater Exmoor and some a little further afield.

After its huge success last year, Somerset Wildlife Trust is delighted to be bringing  ‘Somerset’s Wildlife Gardens’ back for a second year – an initiative that will see eight of Somerset’s finest examples of gardens specifically designed to support our county’s best-loved wildlife open their doors for the public to enjoy.  The gardens, which are spread across the county, as well as being stunning in their own right, each showcase unique features that provide special homes for our best-loved species – from small mammals and pollinators, to birds and pond-dwellers.

With many of our much-loved species facing challenges to find the habitats they need to survive – hedgehogs, bats and sparrows to name a few – making our gardens wildlife-friendly is more important than ever to help many of our species survive. In the UK there are approximately 16 million gardens – a vast amount of habitat available to wildlife. Somerset Wildlife Trust hopes that people who visit these inspiring gardens will feel empowered by them to make their own gardens more wildlife-friendly.

From putting bird feeders up in your garden and leaving parts of your garden wild, to creating your own pond and putting up nesting boxes – there are lots of ways that we can all protect Somerset’s amazing and diverse wildlife by making our own gardens, local green spaces, school playgrounds, or office gardens a secure home for wildlife.

Emma Jones, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Community Fundraiser, explains: “Many of our much-loved and well known garden species are under threat, in part due to habitat loss. Hedgehogs, for example, have experienced a decline of 30% in the UK over the last ten years, and are disappearing from our countryside as fast as tigers worldwide. This brings home to us the fact that our garden wildlife needs our help. This is why it is so inspiring to see that so many people have dedicated time to create beautiful wildlife havens to support wildlife, and not only that but they are opening them up to the public to inspire other to do more for wildlife too.

“For those who are looking for some inspiration on how to make their gardens wildlife-friendly or fancy a wonderful awe-inspiring day out – don’t miss out on these gorgeous gardens. These events are also fundraisers for Somerset Wildlife Trust as all hosts of the gardens will kindly donate the proceeds to the Trust to support its work across the county.”

The entry fee is £4 per adult (free for children aged 16 and under). Tea and cake is available too, at a small extra cost. No booking is required but if you have any questions please email Emma Jones at events@somersetwildlife.org. For more information on the gardens, such as parking, accessibility and dogs please visit: www.somersetwildlife.org/wildlifegardens.html

Hillcrest Wildflower Meadow and Ponds (pictured)
Friday 13 April 11:00 – 16:00
There is a wildlife rich meadow and also a stunning garden that will be full of spring flowers… a perfect spot to revive after the long winter, something we all need! This is the first time Hillcrest has opened in the spring.
Where: Hillcrest, Curload, TA3 6JA

Bracondale Garden
Friday 18 May 11:00 – 16:00
Bracondale is a fabulous example of a garden that we can all try to create. There is a small meadow and pond attracting all kinds of wildlife. A calm space to sit and ponder.
Where: Bracondale, Staplehay, Taunton, TA3 7HB

Hillcrest Wildflower meadows and gardens
Saturday 26 May 14:00 – 17:00
Hillcrest has stunning gardens and a beautiful meadow created and looked after by passionate wildlife gardeners. It is an essential wildlife haven that attracts and protects the local species that in turn gives so much joy to everyone that visits!
Where: Hillcrest, Curload, TA3 6JA

Henley Hill farm
Wednesday 6 June 11:00 – 16:00
Come along to the inspiring Henley Hill Farm to see wild flower and grass rich meadows and pastures with incredible views. The meadow has been studied by experts from Somerset Wildlife Trust who could not believe just how many species of flora and fauna they found. Beautiful!
Where: Henley Hill farm, Haybridge, (near Wells), BA5 1AL

Model Farm Gardens
Sunday 17 June 11:00 – 16:00
Model Farm shows how much nature can create a sanctuary within a decade. The gardeners have made Model Farm a beautiful garden bursting with wildlife, a joy to spend time in.
Where: Model farm, Perry Green, Wembdon, TA5 2BA

Millers Pond and Garden
Saturday 30 June 11:00 – 16:00
This is a jewel for wildlife. Last year, a top garden designer came to visit when the garden opened for Somerset Wildlife Trust and was absolutely full of praise! Why not combine your visit with a trip to Nunney Castle.
Where: The Miller’s House, Nunney, BA11 4NP

Badbury Flower Farm
Sunday 22 July 12:00 – 15:00
Visit this wonderful flower farm… the owner is a flower farmer! Using the beautiful blooms, bouquets and arrangements are created for all occasions. Come and see how they are made and get the chance to create your own posy to take home.
Where: Badbury Dairy House, Isle Abbotts, Taunton. TA3 6RS

Elworthy Cottage
Thursday 26 July 11:00 – 17:00
An inspiring, peaceful wildlife garden full of bumbleebees, butterflies and bird song. After your visit, treat yourself to a beautiful cottage garden plant from the nursery
Where: Elworthy Cottage Plants, Elworthy, TA4 3PX

LEE CONSERVATION AREA EXTENDED

The conservation area for Lee is being extended with more historic characteristics and qualities set to be protected.

At a meeting of North Devon Council’s Executive this month, councillors agreed to recommendations in a report that Lee Conservation Character Appraisal 2018 and the revised boundary for the area are formally adopted by the council. This means that the conservation area for the village has been almost doubled from 11 hectares to 20.8, extending further to the north, east and west as well as including more open spaces.

The character appraisal identifies the key characteristics and qualities of the conservation area for the village and has been produced following public consultations last summer. The appraisal includes most of the suggestions put forward by members of the public and consultees who took part.

Lead member for Strategic Planning at North Devon Council, Councillor Jeremy Yabsley, says: “Conservation areas and character appraisals play an important part in helping to protect special features and locations of an area that are unique and make it what it is. They are not designed to stop development or change to an area but to recognise the special qualities and characteristics so that we can preserve and enhance them for future generations to enjoy.

“I understand that the consultations were very well attended by people of all ages putting forward their ideas and suggestions about what we should include in the appraisal as well as the proposal to extend the conservation area. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to attend, this just goes to show how taking part in these events when we hold them can make a real difference to a village or town.”

There are 41 conservation areas across the North Devon district, most with their own character appraisal and management plan. Conservation areas aim to recognise the architectural and historic interest and importance to the community of the locations within it.

When planning applications are considered the council will look at the conservation area, its character appraisal and management plan to see if the proposals will preserve or enhance the area before making a decision.

PHOTO: Courtesy North Devon Coast AONB

ROTARY CLUB GIFTS 50 TREES FOR TIVERTON

Tiverton Rotary Club has gifted 50 tree saplings to the Council in support of the Rotary Tree Challenge.

The Rotary Tree Challenge is a nationwide challenge encouraging each Rotary member to plant at least one tree to help save the environment in time for this year’s Earth Day on 22 April 2018.  With over 47,000 members in Great Britain and Ireland, the potential number of trees planted would be equivalent to a forest the size of 100 football pitches!

To initiate the challenge, 6 trees were planted during a joint ceremony on Thursday 22 March as part of a wider planting programme in and around Tiverton.  The ceremony took place along the old railway line near Manley Bridge.  In attendance were Rotary members Sue Godfrey (organiser), Tricia Collier and Les Rendell along with the Council’s Leader Clive Eginton,  Darren Beer and Mick Jelliman  from the Grounds Maintenance team.

Further potential sites are being planned and agreed by the Council to enhance existing woodland and open spaces, including Elmore Football Club, Market Walk, West Exe and along the BMX track.

The tree saplings include a mixture of species, including beech, oak and hornbeam  and were supplied by the I Dig Trees planting scheme (a collaboration between OVO Energy and The Conservation Volunteers).  Once all 50 of the trees have been planted, the Council will maintain and accept responsibility for them throughout their life.

Rotary member and organiser Sue Godfrey said: “We are delighted that Mid Devon District Council welcomed the offer of trees by the Rotary Club of Tiverton. We all need to get involved in caring for our environment. This not only benefits wildlife but also enhances the quality of life for all of us in the Tiverton area.”

Clive Eginton said: “I’d like to thank the Rotary Club of Tiverton for this magnanimous gesture; it really is fantastic that they’ve donated 50 trees of 5 different varieties and I hope that the people of Tiverton and the surrounding areas will enjoy these trees for many decades to come.”

The environmental benefits of this campaign will replenish forests and ensure habitats for wildlife are restored. The challenge is also a great way to involve communities, with activities varying from extending and under-planting existing woods to enhancing parks and open spaces.

If you would like to get involved in the Rotary Tree Challenge, grab your wellies and make contact with your local Rotary Club using the Rotary Club finder. Alternatively, check the Rotary tree-planting schemes and take part without getting your hands dirty.

MARINE MATTERS FOR THE NORTH DEVON PIONEER

News from the North Devon Biosphere

The North Devon Marine Pioneer held its second stakeholder workshop recently, at Alverdiscott Community Hall in North Devon. A wide range of people from across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset braved the snow to participate in this event.

With over 40 attendees, it was a lively day with input from a range of different marine sectors, including the fishing industry, local government, tourism and recreation, maritime industry and conservation.

The beginning of the day was led by the Marine Pioneer partners; they presented some demonstration projects commencing as part of the North Devon Marine Pioneer. Later, participants were asked for their advice and expertise, focusing on four subjects: marine governance and management; the local fishing industry; the Taw Torridge estuary; and how we can sustainably fund the management of North Devon’s Marine Protected Areas.

“This workshop showed just how engaged North Devon people and our neighbours are with their sea, estuaries and rivers. This was a successful day and the information from the day will be used to guide our next steps in the Pioneer,” says Chrissie Ingle, the Marine Pioneer Coordinator.

What is the Marine Pioneer?
The Government has committed to ensure that our natural environment that provides our prosperity and health is protected and improved for us and future generations. The 25 Year Environment Plan was launched on 11 January by Theresa May and sets out how this would be achieved.

To help accomplish this there are four ‘Pioneer’ areas – where new approaches from the plan will be trialled. The four pioneers are: the landscape of North Devon, the marine environment in North Devon and Suffolk, a river catchment in Cumbria and the urban area of Greater Manchester.

What has happened so far?
There have already been two North Devon Marine Pioneer workshops: one in March 2017 produced long-term aims and ambitions for North Devon’s Marine area, with agreed goals such as ‘improved local fisheries management’, ‘robust protection of biodiversity’ and ‘increased local decision-making’. The second, in November 2017, was a focussed workshop with licencers and planners to consider how our natural marine environment can be better incorporated into local decision making – both reports from these workshops can be found online at www.northdevonbiosphere.org.uk/marinepioneer.html

From this second workshop local information and experiences can define how we proceed with the Pioneer. There will be a report from the day, which will be made available on the North Devon Biosphere’s Marine Pioneer webpage www.northdevonbiosphere.org.uk/marinepioneer.html

PHOTO by Andrew Wheatley.