Skip to content

Exe Estuary Management Partnership

For people, for wildlife, for the future

Exe Estuary Management Partnership Summer Stakeholder Forum Feedback Report 2022


Last Updated


The annual Stakeholder Forum was a success with 93 people attending in person and 14 people attending virtually. Presentations included:

  • Exe Estuary Management Partnership: Taking forward priorities from the Management Plan review (Stephanie Harper-Chung, Exe Estuary Officer)
  • An Update from Exeter Port Authority (Grahame Forshaw, Harbour Master)
  • Update on plans for Exe Estuary Trail maintenance works at Courtlands Boardwalk, Lympstone (James Leigh, Devon County Council Engineer)
  • South East Devon Habitat Regulations Partnership: Wildlife refuge monitoring (Caius Constable and Naomi Harnett, SEDHRP)

An introduction to Dawlish Warren Beach Management Post-Scheme Review was given by Martin Davies from the Environment Agency, before Forum members were given the opportunity to take part in an interactive workshop to provide input into management options.

The Forum presentations can be found on the EEMP website at

Forum Chair: Jeremy Rawlings
Forum Vice Chair: Ted Draper

After four years as Forum Chair, Jeremy Rawlings stepped down from his role. Ted Draper was promoted to Forum Chair, and Gordon Betteridge, who has been Rear Commodore for the Exe Sailing Club and Senior Watchkeeper for National Coastwatch, took the position of Forum Vice Chair.

Exe Estuary Officer: Stephanie Harper-Chung
Contact: / 01392 382236

Sectoral Balance

A pie chart showing the sectors represented at the Exe Estuary Forum.

The sectoral representation of attendees was analysed to investigate the balance of interests presented at the Forum. The attendees have been grouped according to sector, for example “Local Authority” also includes the various partnerships which are hosted within a local authority. As shown by the pie chart below there was a range of representation of different sectors from commercial interest to those representing Local Authorities, which had high representation including a number of councillors and partnership representatives. Most of these groups are fairly well balanced and are generally in line with the expected proportion of interest groups on the estuary, with representation from all sectors. A large representation from the recreation sector was present, likely due to the majority of the Forum content having relevance to this group. There was good representation from commercial interests and navigation / mooring / docks on the Exe, which is a positive indication that local businesses are being engaged with partnership work.


QuestionsStrongly AgreeAgreeNeither Agree nor DisagreeDisagreeStrongly Disagree
The Forum was worth attending59%41%0%0%0%
The presentations were interesting50%50%0%0%0%
The themes covered were relevant to me29%68%0%3%0%
I was able to contribute to discussions26%62%9%3%0%
I felt my contributions were valued and useful21%44%32%3%0%
The Exe Stakeholder Forum represents all stakeholders in the Exe Estuary15%59%18%9%0%
I would like to attend the Forum again in the future38%59%3%0%0%
The Forum is a key opportunity for me to learn more about the Exe Estuary, get involved and have my views heard50%50%0%0%0%
I value the work of the Exe Estuary Partnership62%38%0%0%0%
The venue was suitable62%29%3%6%0%

These were positive with 100% of feedback stating that the Forum was worth attending, the presentations were interesting, and that the Forum is a key opportunity to learn more about the Exe Estuary, get involved and have views heard. 100% of feedback also stated that attendees value the work of the Exe Estuary Partnership, which is very important to us.  

The large majority of attendees indicated that the themes covered were relevant, they were able to contribute to discussions, they would like to attend the Forum again, and that the venue was suitable, although there was a suggestion that the Forum should have been held in Dawlish Warren to better suit the workshop topic and encourage Dawlish stakeholders.  

A number of attendees weren’t sure whether their contributions were valued and useful, and weren’t sure whether the Stakeholder Forum represents all stakeholders in the Exe Estuary. It is a possibility that attendees may not have been equipped with the necessary information to answer these questions. There were suggestions that South West Water should be included.  

All who responded indicated a preference for an in-person event, rather than a virtual event (with two people indicating no preference). Several people requested Ocean as a return venue, and a large number of suggestions included Langstone Cliff Hotel or another venue on the west bank of the estuary.  

Comments received through these feedback forms are included at the end of this report in the Appendix, along with a record of the question and answer sessions from the event.


A. Questions & Answers for Session 2: Update Presentations

Wildlife Refuges 

Question: Derick Carter – Would you consider extending the dates for the wildlife refuge at Mudbank to two weeks earlier starting in august? Wildfowl are feeding on the eel grass from this date 200+ birds were counted when at least 3 paddle boarders went through the flock while two entered the Withycombe Brook. This is becoming an issue for the feeding birds.  

Answer: Naomi Harnett, SEDHRP – We must have a proportional response – at this stage data indicates that the refuges are working, so we will be keeping the same dates, but we will continue to monitor location and timings (monitoring is twice a month).  

Question: Keith Hills – Do you count curlew/white egrets?  

Answer: SEDHRP – Yes, we count and record everything we can identify. 

Question: Francis Lews Palmer – There was a potentially sick bird on the golf course (gannet) and wondered if it was avian flu. 

Answer: SEDHRP – Avian flu is in the South West. Do not touch dead or sick birds – please click here for government guidance 

Port Authority 

Question: Keith Hill – Do you know where the mark off Darling Rock Lympstone has gone?  

Answer: Grahame Forshaw – it belongs to Lympstone Fishery and Harbour Association. 

Question: Nigel Snowshall – My question is about moving historic boats up the estuary, and will the old coal boat move? 

Answer: Grahame Forshaw – The old coal boat will stay. Anything that is a hazard to the navigation channel, or at risk of lifting off into the channel we will consider moving. We do assess the environmental impact of moving boats. 

Question: Moving Bylaws speed limit, if you change to ‘No wash’ hydrofoils won’t create a wash at all – ten tonne yacht 30 knot – better way is to use mass and speed? 

Answer: Grahame Forshaw – ‘No wash’ was just an example of what we could do, we will do a full public consultation. 

Sewage CSO Discharge 

Question: Robert Kathro – sewage pollution in river – what will partnership do to reduce and end CSO outfalls in the Exe Estuary – raw sewage was discharged last night – is it in partnership scope to combat this problem? 

Answer: Steph Harper-Chung – It is helpful to hear about incidents so we can bring information together and then get in contact with South West Water to get a clearer picture on what they are doing and have an open dialogue with them. South West Water time frame for action is quite long – we can certainly push from the Exe Estuary side.

Jeff Trail – Simon Jupp East Devon MP is already in consultation with South West Water. 

Paul Withers – The Environment Agency is supposed to be investigating South West Water. They should be doing most of the work in partnership with yourselves – do you know how far it has got? 

Martin Davies – I know the EA is under scrutiny and this issue is very high profile. Our chairman is continually asking questions, and this issue is on the agenda. Do keep reporting through incident the Environment Agency hotline. 

Peter Chamberlain – The EA are undertaking a statutory investigation with OFWAT (water regulator). It will take some time to complete (announced investigation in June). The Exe Estuary Partnership does not have regulatory process unlike EA and OFWAT. The Exe Estuary Partnership can’t solve the problem but can help facilitate communication of information.  

Tim Downing, Exmouth Town Council – South West Water are coming to the next Exmouth Town Council meeting. District Council are also involved and have also had a meeting with the South West Water scrutiny committee – several pronged attacks – involves most water companies – hopefully there will be some action. 


Question: Lynn Trout – Will the board walks across the Clyst have the same problem as at Lympstone? 

Answer: James Leigh – These board walks are not in bad condition. All have regular inspections. Lympstone has deteriorated a lot quicker than we expected compared to other areas potentially due to the habitat it is in. 

B. Questions & Answers for Interactive Workshop Session 3: Dawlish Warren Beach Management Post-Scheme Review

Question: Martin Wrigley – If we lose middle bit of the Warren – houses in Dawlish Warren are at risk of flooding – significant waves on railway line, fairly disastrous change to estuary, would obliterate wildlife refuge on Cockwood side, are you presuming distal end will flatten?  

Answer: EA – message is Dawlish Warren defences are unsustainable. Whoever manages the assets around the estuary need to design things into the future under this assumption – Dawlish Warren will degrade slowly, and sand will move into estuary. Rising sea levels will bring more sand into the estuary.  

Question: Robert Kathro – are you using the planning restrictions as a reason to protect Dawlish Warren – is the other option to repair replace and put in new assets? 

Answer: EA – To continue to put defences on something when nature wants something else will mean you have ongoing erosion and maintenance and will have to commit to long term lots of concrete which is expensive. Or you can commit to a more resilient sustainable future.  

Question: Francis Whiteley – With sea levels going up it will reduce the length of the river, if it goes through the geotube it will reroute the river, with more erosion on Exmouth, further upriver all the meanders will change. 

Answer: EA – It is difficult to say how it will respond due to phased removal, and not doing anything at distal end. Dawlish Warren has flattened and breached before. 

Question: David Rochester – Climate change and southerly winds mean isn’t there a real risk taking geotubes out that the distal end will go quickly? 

Answer: EA – The section next to large geotube will be retained to reduce risk of out flanking – no expected accelerated erosion of distal end at the time. 

Question: John Wilkinson – Clear a lot of modelling has been done – have these models been updated recently or using old data? 

Answer: EA – Study is based on original scheme outputs but updated with all evidence post scheme (sea level rise updates, storm impacts). Atkins reports and models are being reviewed by another consultant. 

Question: Simon Barnett (via email) – Why did the remedial coastal erosion works on the east side of Dawlish Warren go so drastically wrong? Who is to blame and what has it cost the taxpayer? 

Answer: EA – By ‘Remedial works’ do you mean Geotube repairs? (Not done only patch and repair) or ‘jack boxes’ (blue containers) put in when geotube first exposed as temporary contingency measure over Christmas period. ‘Wrong’ depends on what works talked about. No works were designed to stop coastal erosion. 

Highlights fact any defences unsustainable when spit held on current artificially-held alignment as beaches lower in front. ‘Blame’ depends on nature of any fault i.e. ‘defects’ with construction for a certain period sits with Contractor; designer if obvious structural design fault, but usually responsibility for repairs rests with Client.   

Paid for by Flood Defence Grant in Aid (scheme and repair works post-scheme); ongoing maintenance through Revenue budgets. 

C. Comments Received from Feedback Forms

Improvements for future events: 

“Too limited in its links to wider area” 

“While I agree the venue was suitable, I am surprised this was not held in Dawlish or Dawlish Warren. There seemed to be very few Dawlish stakeholders present.” 

“Depends on the topics discussed.” 

“Need to add SW Water!” 

“SWW rep?” 

“Thank you!” 

“Is there a list of stakeholders who attend?” 

Suggestions for next Stakeholder Forum:  

  1. Venue suggestions 

“Ocean” (6 suggestions received) 

“Langstone Cliff Hotel, Dawlish Warren or another Dawlish venue” (4 suggestions received) 


“Beach Hotel” 

“This is nice – but perhaps West Bank” 

“A location in Exeter would have been central” 

  1. Future topics/presentations 

“Combined Exe River catchment area river water quality monitoring and programme for mitigating ending sewage and agricultural pollution.” 

“Dawlish Warren Rangers (TDC)” 

“State of the Exe. Wildlife. Local Nature Recovery Plans – Exe” 

“Ongoing beach and water safety” 

“How can home owners & businesses prepare and be more resilient in the face of the impact of climate change on the estuary” 

“Exmouth Transition” 

“Pollution and investment by SWW to mitigate against population growth” 

“EA updates. SWW – update” 

“Sewage real time modelling – EEMP should apply for a grant from central government”  

“Ski-area suggestions” 

“Progress report on Dawlish Warren spit”  

“Dawlish Warren” 

“Topics as at present plus more pressure from various authorities on Environment Agency to investigate S.W.W. pollution S.W. / F.W. discharges into rivers & coastal areas. This problem is not new it has been neglected for many years since privatisation of water authorities throughout the country. S.W.W. has large coastal area & large seasonal influx.” 

  1. Items for group discussion 

“Improved partnership working to address the above (water quality comment) and enhancing monitoring, improvement and penalising offenders” 

“How can the community support one another?” 

“Climate change” 

  1. Other suggestions for future Forum events / how local voices can be heard 

“What an excellent forum, really informative, much enjoyed. Thank you for all the hard work put in to this” 

“Really like the magazine that you produce for sending out the information – Exe Estuary” 

“Email updates are always welcome” 

“Obviously early days, but improved tech would help facilitate the evening! Cheers” 

“Chat over the season”