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Exe Estuary Management Partnership

For people, for wildlife, for the future

Exe Estuary Management Plan Review Consultation Report 2021 Annex 1: Public consultation online responses


Annex 1: Public consultation online responses

1. Education and Interpretation

Issues:

  • Insufficient understanding by the public of the Estuaries statutory protections
  • Insufficient visitor engagement on site in some areas of the estuary
  • Education for Exe and how best to use its resources wisely:
  • New home owners
  • New businesses
  • ‘- conservation – what is meant by this? How do the public and business peceive this across their respective interests
    – economic value – this requires an element of quantification – and should include employment, value generation, risk and mitigation planning
    – resource/capacity to support stakeholders interests – which would of course need the resources, capacity and the stakeholders/ type of stakeholder/group/company…etc defined and quantified
  • Insufficient public knowledge of wildlife importance of estuary and how boats are disturbing protected species by breaking the bylaws on boat speed, water skiing etc
  • Ignorance of water users
  • Cars parked on Shelly/Duckpond beaches at low water
  • Irresponsible dog walkers and other beach users
  • Insufficient understanding on the part of the partnership about impacts!
  • Is there a need for assessment of the effectiveness of education and interpretation to know what works and what doesn’t and what needs to be done differently or needs more resourcing?

“I show below… the conclusions reached by the workgroups at the Stakeholder Forum on Sept 15th.

These clearly strongly support ongoing  recreational use of the Exe.

While we all support the protection of the Estuary and its wildlife, it is believed that existing environmental regulations are fully adequate.  It is  notable that with regard to environmental matters it is proposed that  existing  environmental objectives should not be “enhanced”  but simply “maintained”. We note that in the previous plan, exclusion zones were created to counter declining bird population.  Given the evidence in the Footprint Ecology 2020 report it is clear that bird disturbance by water users is minimal and further expansion of exclusion zones cannot be justified.

Finally as a sailing club based in Topsham we strongly support the suggestion that a navigable channel  be maintained”.

2 Communication

The estuary is promoted through a broad range of positive activities in order to engage a wide range of users and encourage safe and responsible use of the estuary’s natural environment and resources.

Opportunities for a dynamic, innovative hub/resource for engagement, education and interpretation of the estuary are explored and resources sought to celebrate the estuary and create a greater understanding of, and connection with, this important area.

3 Climate Change

Raising awareness of the key climate change issues and impacts in the Exe Estuary among local communities and tourist populations, to identify targeted actions that people are empowered to take to make a difference to their local environment.

5.1 Water Quality

Targeted and robust WQ monitoring data should be obtained through coordinated effort by stakeholders and regulators, so that probable sources of contamination are identified (and verified by EA) and appropriate remedial measures are put in place.

5.3  Pollution

Engaging or working with other key partners to ensure that pollution incidents are responded to and addressed through measures such as contingency plans in order to protect the estuary and its users.

5.5 Spatial planning and Development

  1. Ensure that all three planning authorities adequately recognise and promote the objectives of the Exe Estuary Management through their own local plans and development management functions.
  2. All three planning authorities should facilitate investment in new or improved facilities which promote the enjoyment and understanding and access to the Exe Estuary in providing for new development in their respective areas.

6.2 Fisheries

The commercial and recreational fisheries activities are managed sustainably and in line with legislation to enable achievement of the objectives of designated sites.

6.3 water Based recreation

Achieve an educated balance of social and recreational activities to avoid adverse impacts on other users and the environment by training and educating local as well as visiting members of the public

6.4 Tourism

  1. Personal Water Craft usage is better managed in order that enjoyment of the water is better balanced for all visitors & locals
  2. Communication and promotion of the Exe Estuary is branded as a whole so that potential visitors and locals are better informed on the wide variety of qualities that the Estuary offers resulting in improved understanding and appreciation of what is here.

Environment

  1. There was a feeling that the general tone of the environment objective[s] should be toned down a bit i.e. less stringent or strongly worded toward the environment.

2    There was also a strong aversion to the notion and inclusion of the word ‘enhance’ with respect to the   environment in any ‘objective’ statement’.  Preference was for the word ‘maintain’ as an objective of environmental management.

Water Based Recreation

The future of the estuary for water based recreation is dependent on maintaining a navigable channel with a depth of at least 1 metre at chart data throug

Actions:

  • More quality signage in popular stopping places along the Exe Estuary trail with more detail of the designations and features.
  • Fully staffed visitor centres in key locations (with coffee etc to help finance and attract more visitors) Bird hides and viewing towers around the estuary. Also more hostels/hubs for conservation students to engage with nature.
  • Local Newspaper Articles
  • Local News Channels
  • Open Sessions/Workshops
  • ‘- provide clear information to the infrastructure, regulations and responsibilities currently in operation, risk assesments on how these are currently affected/expected to be affected, feedback to stakeholders, and new policy guidelines
    – to include in a database all users and activities; not just those who ‘volunteer’ to provide information and feedback to EEMP
    – to liase with ‘authorities’ and facilitate and support indvidual access to relevant key decision makers, and to properly lobby as a group where mutual interests are agreed
  • Educate users directly and via mooring companies etc
  • Clear signage at all access points
  • Visible presence of Community Enforcement Officers
  • Visible presence of teams from the RSPB and the Harbour Master offices
  • Action: fund and carry out review of effectiveness of education and interpretation measures with recommendations for positive change for greater effectiveness.
  • Action: find funding to invest in more habitat mitigation officers/education officers. Ensure holistic plan to align actions between EEMP and Hab Regs group. Ensure habitat mitigation officers have all relevant powers to enforce bylaws.
  • Action: Need to make key locations more obvious and with bigger, better quality signage. Review zoning strategy based on evidence. Promote.

2. Climate Change Mitigation

Issues:

  • Neither the Issue nor the Action (above) has anything to do with Climate Change Mitigation. Mitigation is ACTION to REDUCE Climate Change. The Issue and the Action above are precursors to the Adaptation to Climate Change.
  • Flooding
  • Erosion
  • Pollution
  • Has the research mentioned identified some key indicator plant and animal species that EEMP can develop a useful monitoring scheme around?
  • Issue: polluting forms of travel contributing to poor air quality and exacerbating impacts of climate change.
  • Issue: promotion of Exe Estuary as a destination is encouraging travel by car.
  • Our members would support positive measures to reduce carbon emissions; eg planting sea grass to enhance biodiversity.
  • Pollution control is urgently required.

Actions:

  • Ban the use of reduced tax red diesel in the whole area from 2022
  • Ban new diesel boats / ferries from 2023, and new non hybrid petrol boats from 2027.
  • Ban the use of any fossil fuel powered vessels from 2030
  • Tree planting in higher reaches of the Exe
  • Traditional seas defences to be deployed, such as groins
  • Strict monitoring especially in the marina and moored areas in the river
  • Action: ID some key indicator species for climate change.
  • Action: promote green travel- use of the cycle network. Also electric car charging, co-cars schemes etc. Reduce use of polluting marine engines etc on estuary- are there standards for this? Promote travel by train.
  • Action: only promote access to Exe Estuary by green travel (public transport, cycling, walking). Improve green infrastructure.

Policies:

  • CC2 nor CC3 nor CC4 are anything to do with Climate Change Mitigation.
  • They are, probably ineffective, means towards Climate Adaptation
  • To better understand the general regulatory framework in force and/or planned, and to assess the impact for this on current and expected monitoring programs. This should also make more prominent the land under the EEMP conservancy, and not simply focused on the Estuary per se.
  • There seems to be a divergence between the aim of proactive (or even reactive) planning by some organisations and another of ‘conservancy’. The two do not address the same objectives unless specifically defined and understood. It is suggested that it is not properly understood by many stakeholders.
  • CC1 – do not understand, and would suggest such a programme could be divisive if not handled properly, and this should be via statutory control. All businesses for example balance different demands – similarly with local councils – development and revenue generation vs EEMP aims. Or is this aimed at individual/the public and its activity. Is for example the usage of packaging a climate issue or an environmental one – etc…
  • CC2 – ‘climate related incidents’ – is that climate or weather? Does for example the EA involvement in the Warren address issues on erosion or habitat – and as an example is this an example of climate change mitigation? A storm is weather. Climate change must have some better definition/distinction from that of weather changes; and so be handled differently – otherwise the risk is to try to manage natural processes rather than limit the impact of extreme changes.
  • CC3 – To be encourage. Although it is unclear how monitoring results in impacts (short/medium/long) as part of Climate Change, but in any case proper scientific, peer reviewed assessments can only improve the quality of information and improve planning and decision making.
  • Monitoring shifting sand banks and their effect on navigable channels.
  • CC4 is adaptation, not mitigation.

3. Climate Change Adaptation

Issues:

  • ‘- It is difficult to understand how monitoring enables any direct evaluation of any localised social, economic factors. Although environmental issues can be raised
    – if looking at plant/animal species, then both positive and negative factors have to be assessed. In addition the environment etc say at the Pebblebeds is very much different than that of the marginal limits of the estuary/flood plain/other, and this needs looking at rather than what might happen – taking existing research out of context, or allowing undue influence of the sponsors of those research studies without taking an independent – and scientific approach
  • Changing wild life migrations
  • ‘- Change at Dawlish Warren
    – Coastal squeeze of Exe Estuary SPA habitats
    – Monitoring responds to change and impacts that have already happened, adaptation need to be put in place ahead of this.
  • Issue: Sea level rise is squeezing the estuary habitats and they are constrained by sea walls, road and rail infrastructure. We need to find ways to allow the coastal habitats to move and or be replaced (within estuary) to ensure that the important and designated wildlife and habitats are able to persist into the future.
  • Issue: Sea level rise and increased storminess will impact estuarine infrastructure. Has this been properly scoped/ understood? Are partners/ statutory agencies/ landowners etc aware and planning proactively? (not just for their infrastructure but associated changes that may be needed eg does an area of dry grass become wet grass adjacent to railway infrastructure and does that impact structures/ change the need for type of infrastructure? Eg when does an embankment need to be replaced with a bridge? Etc. will more money need to be found for future maintenance of structures?).
  • Issue: Exminster Marshes and other low-lying land within the EEMP boundary are likely to be more affected by increased and sudden flood events. This may impact ability to farm effectively (pastoral and arable) and there may be associated impact on water quality and soil erosion and runoff. New housing at Matford will see increased drainage into the marshes which will increase spikey/ flashy flood events and increase potential for pollution incidents in the marshes too.
  • Our members are aware of climate change and differences in fish/shellfish numbers and species etc. Other changes to bird life are noted and are not necessarily due to water users.

Actions:

  • Work with Universities that are carrying out some of the research for this
  • ‘- if a representative sample of stakeholders can be obtained, then maybe an intial profile/market research can be taken to understand existing issues, pressures, and programs currently engaged – which may lead to better understanding and possibly the promotion of ‘best practice’ etc.
    – for research assessments, then this has to be done independently, scientifically, and address the locality raher than any wider environments where the conditions are different
  • Expand voluntary exclusion zones in other areas where there is wild life activity
  • ‘- Encourage Coastal Risk Management authorities to accelerate adaptation
    – Support Local Planning Authorities in spatial planning around the estuary that supports adaptation
    – Hold authorities to account for delivering objectives
  • Action: Review climate change/sea level predictions for estuary, particularly with the now decreased life expectancy of the Dawlish Warren Beach Management Scheme. What impact does this have for habitats, species and flood and coastal erosion risk management in the estuary? Take forward a holistic and coordinated approach to managed realignment and compensatory habitat provision in the estuary.
  • Action: Review climate change/ sea level predictions for estuary, particularly with the now decreased life expectancy of the Dawlish Warren Beach Management Scheme. Actively engage stakeholder and partners. Work with EA on this.
  • Action: work with landowners to understand measures that can be taken to reduce impact (agri-envt schemes) and also restore floodplain grazing marsh to be most effective for floodwater management. Ensure pollution prevention measures are put in place (sediment traps and oil traps) to minimise impact to SSSI grazing marsh.

4. Natural Environment

Issues:

  • Determine the cause for the loss of mussel beds
  • Quantify the success of fish nurseries
  • increasing control and limitation of existing activities is not welcome
  • Issue:
    • the impact of water quality on the wildlife of the Exe
    • the impact of increased usage of water craft on the canal and the Exe estuary
  • Codes of Conduct – how best to promote these
  • ‘- to define areas on land/farming/flood plain/heathland etc to quantify ‘loss’ or change, and provide proper qualified assessment which gives proven benefits when taken in context to all demands
    – to provide proper risk assessments which may lead to proper statutory control rather than codes of conduct which on first glance simply preach to the converted
    – to have proper dialogue with land owners/leaseholders etc about these issues
    – to properly identify users and groups rather than those which decide to engage within the process
  • Disturbance of wildlife from recreational users, especially motorised boats breaking the bylaws through speeding, water skiing outside the designated area etc
  • New bird and fish group migration due to climate change
  • ‘- Change at Dawlish Warren
    – Coastal squeeze of Exe Estuary SPA habitats and need for provision of adaptation space for the full mosaic of habitats
  • SSSI condition assessment long overdue and needed to inform action.
  • Plan for climate change mitigation/adaptation – Exe hinterland opportunities (functionally linked habitat used by wintering birds – is it appropriately identified and how will these areas be safeguarded and managed?).
  • Review effectiveness of recreational measures and holistic strategy including enforcement measures.
  • We object to any revision of the activity/exclusion zones within the projected 5 year plan.

Actions:

  • Explore the potential for the establishment of eel grass beds.
  • Monitor water quality and wildlife responses in areas where usage has changed recently eg new housing development and commercial buildings. Revise local plan accordingly where pollution is impacting negatively.
  • monitor wildlife and vegetation in areas where more water craft present eg Kingfishers which were regular users of the canal are no longer present due to increased water craft users. Some vegetation has been damaged by water craft affecting wildlife habitats.
  • Educate users of the bylaws and how their actions are harmful
  • Support the harbour authority in obtaining powers to properly enforce the bylaws
  • Ensure sufficient enforcement of bylaws is carried out
  • Expand voluntary exclusion zones
  • INVITE A FORUM SPECIFICALLY OF WATER USERS TO DISCUSS
  • ‘- support revision of the Exe Estuary Strategy
    – Encourage Coastal Risk Management authorities to accelerate adaptation, to provide timely interventions, and put in place adequate monitoring
    – Support Local Planning Authorities in spatial planning around the estuary that supports adaptation
  • 1 EEMP to work with NE on ensuring up to date condition assessments are carried out for Exe Estuary SSSI and then used to inform necessary conservation action, which could include necessity for enforcement.
  • 2 Identify need for provision of compensatory habitat within estuary system and secure that.
  • 3 Enact measures to achieve necessary behavioural changes to avoid adverse impacts on protected habitats and species by ensuring effective wardening, provision of SANGS and education to achieve a supportive local (and wider Exe user) population who are informed, encouraged and enabled to act to support better conservation of the Exe’s wildlife and avoid damaging it.

5. History and Archaeology

Issues:

  • ‘- there appears to be little or no contact or communication with stakeholders about these issues. It is suggested that this requires primary and secondary research/market research
    – there is little evidence of ECC as the Authority to focus on this matter as it may not be in the remit of ECC – although its operations are intertidal etc, so it is assumed to address this as part of its activities
    – much historical and archaeology is available, and also links to the environmental changes over the past years – and it would be good to profile this in order to provide baselines for further works and impact assessments

6. Water Quality

Issues:

  • Make sure farms, roads and houses don’t pollute the estuary
  • multiple sewer overspills – would seem to be increasing in frequency
  • Water quality
  • Water testing
  • Sewage outfall from flooding over spills.
  • “East Devon Catchment Partnership” sounds very grand, but unless the EA have the resources to monitor, convict and heavily fine the farmers, industries and Water/ sewage treatment operators that so severely pollute the estuary – because it is cheaper to pollute that to clean up – then little will be achieved.
  • ‘- please detail out impacts from man made developments – eg: the Environment Agency, and Dawlish Warren in the impact of its actions and place in context to other forms of pollution
    – ECC to stop allowing pollution into the River and Canal, and to provide reporting on this matter, and the Authority to actually manage permissable works which provide pollution – rather than ignoring it, or doinjg it themselves
    – to review legislation and the requirements of SWW in its self policing of water quality
  • quality still adversely affected by heavy rain.
  • SWW appear to have little interest in preventing the occurrences.
  • The catchment partnership do not initiate action.
  • SW Water does not adequately control wat goes into the EXE especially in wet weather.
  • the May Bloom that happens on the sea most years is NOT natural. It is the result of too many nutrients coming from agricultural sources.
  • Regular release of sewage when it rains
  • The current ecological health of the Exe Estuary and educating stakeholders on what they can do to make a difference
  • Impact of catchment land use on water quality and dilution in the Estuary and difficulty in identifying the source of diffuse pollution ( this needs to be included in the new plan) as this has implications for shellfish waters.
  • Water quality is also affected by projects that have been or will be carried out on the estuary (i.e Dawlish Warren beach management scheme causing sedimentation issues)
  • Our members strongly urge a robust approach to improve water quality.
  • Pollution from SWW outfalls is unacceptable. In 2020, some 117 million litres of untreated sewage was dischaged into the Exe from Exeter to Exmouth, (data from experience.arcgis.com)
  • We know from the presentation by Dr Ross Brown in Oct 2020, that there are many other pollutants in the Exe however the prevention of raw sewage being discharged is our urgent priority.
  • WQ2 below states “encourage SWW” etc. We consider that legal enforcement is required.

Actions:

  • Enforcement
  • Lobby councils
  • lobby SWW to install more treatment and pumping facilities to divert these overspills
  • Improve sewage treatment works
  • Correctly fund the Environment Agency
  • Provide regular testing of water quality
  • Lobby government to transfer enough funding to the EA to do their job properly, and allow the EA to keep the fines imposed to fund future work.
  • Publicise every incident where SW Water fail to meet standards and publicise agricultural incidents too. campaign for better land management in catchment area
  • Building control measures to separate foul water from rain water on all development
  • Use the new report entitled ‘The State of our Rivers’ which has been released by the Rivers Trust as a starting point/baseline
  • Work with the local catchment partnership to identify the next steps to improve water quality as well as involving relevant stakeholders, particularly

3. Work with relevant local authorities (Natural England, IFCAs) and stakeholders to ensure proper mitigation measures are in place for any work/projects on the estuary, in order to protect the designated habitats within the EMS and shellfish fisheries

7. Waste Management and Recycling

Issues:

  • All very well for volunteers to clear up but enforcement/prosecution the way ahead
  • old boats, moorings and general left behind signs of particularly leisure craft use need a system in place to deal with
  • Issue: impact of historic landfill sites under industrial estates such as the one at Dawlish next to Shutterton Brook – possible leakage?
  • Prevent sewage discharges
  • Enforce companies to comply with water quality regulations
  • Privatise water companies
  • ‘- whether the Pebblebeds or beach management, the Councils responsible have the duty to manage these issues. EEMP should only co-ordinate and provide a communication plan for such activity. Promotion of beack clear ups for example is good, but needs adequate support – or it simply becomes a token/headlining grabbing activity – but with little actual teeth
    – what reports provide actual impact assessments of waste disposal in/on habitats
    – waste and recycling are adopted by many busineses, and EEMP really should support these activities alongside the local councils. There is good work done, but it can read as if nothing is being done…
  • Lack of pump out facilities for boat holding tanks
  • While clean-ups are good, prevention is better and we consider the need to explore and implement measures to avoid/reduce waste is important.
  • We consider that waste management require significant improvement. Many of our members have signed up to Surfers Against Sewage beach cleaning schemes and Edge Watersports organise regular beach cleans.
  • Waste bins on the seafront are regularly overflowing and glass is picked up regularly on the beach. The duckpond has inadequate waste bins and in both areas, paper and plastic ends up in the water.
  • Gull resistant bins would help. East Devon DC operatives do their best but public behaviour during lockdown has often been disgraceful.

Actions:

  • promote the idea of a deposit placed alongside any mooring fees which can be retained to cover costs of removal of the vessel if the owner disappears
  • Monitor water quality of Brook and prepare contingency plan should leakage of landfill occur – possible pollutants from items such as old batteries
  • Finance water quality enforcement
  • Nationalise water companies
  • Enforce water quality regulations
  • Provide more pump out facilities for boat holding tanks
  • Identify the source of waste, litter etc and, working with relevant agencies, groups and individuals, implement measures to avoid/reduce waste. Marine Conservation Society could be a source of information and advice.

8. Pollution Response

Issues:

  • Enforcement
  • Prevent out falls into the river
  • Provide regular tests of water quality
  • Fund water companies properly or nationalise
  • ‘- pollution and control of water quality within the Canal linked to the control of effluent from riverside workings – in particular facilities operated by ECC
    – mapping and listing of current water purity sites, liceced effluent discharges to the river etc
    – an assessment of grey and black water being discharged into the river/canal/other etc
  • The narrowing of the estuary entrance has increased the speed of the current. Booming is unlikely to be effective around HW spring tides

Actions:

  • Enforcement
  • Prevent out falls into the river
  • Provide regular tests of water quality
  • Fund water companies properly or nationalise
  • This is and ECC area of responsibility and needs to be overseen by the ECC Harbour board.
  • Any further use of sand for rebuilding Dawlish Warren would be better sourced from the end of Dawlish Warren

9. Flood and Coastal Risk Management

Issues:

  • Impact on the features of SSSI by storm damage and breaching the sand dunes of Dawlish Warren
  • Use punitive planning funding to fund improvements in sewage treatment. Habitats mitigation funding should help improve water quality in the Exe.
  • ‘- Activity within flood plain
    – the run-off from new developments to the River
    – assessing the balance on nature vs man made control across different issues
  • ‘- Change at Dawlish Warren
  • Flood defences at Mamhead slipway
  • Overtopping at Pier Head
  • Inappropriate use of Belshers slipway
  • Issue: effectiveness, longevity and future prospects of the Dawlish Warren Beach Management Scheme. Long term impacts are not known/publicised, and we need to know what this means for future sea level rise predictions in the wider estuary if Dawlish Warren breaches in advance of predictions.
  • Issue: understand impacts of additional drainage into the Exminster marshes from local housing development. Increased development is going to increase run off, decrease water storage potential above the marshes and increase the flashiness of water response in the catchment which will impact farming operations. See point 22/23.
  • Issue: review Exminster Marshes water level management plan. Plan is overdue a review and provides opportunity to think about best catchment management given climate change impacts and local development pressure. For water but also ecosystem services, nature and people (wellbeing etc).

Actions:

  • implement an effective storm and flood protection scheme at Dawlish Warren
  • Switch funding from birds to the water quality which is much more important.
  • ‘- Encourage Coastal Risk Management authorities to accelerate adaptation, including implementation of short term measures that do not adversely impact on the future resilience of the sand spit and its sheltering function
  • Use duel purpose structures to mitigate wave action at Mamhead and Pier Head
  • Design additions to these structures to provide new landing places and improved safer launching
  • Discourage inappropriate use of Belshers by improvements at Mamhead
  • Action: get revised predictions from EA that can be shared with partners and stakeholders. Use this to review flood and coastal risk management plans for the estuary (shoreline management plan, Exe Estuary F&CERM study). Links back to holistic approach to managed realignment/ coastal planning/ compensatory habitat.
  • Action: See point 22/23.
  • Action: review Exminster Marshes water level management plan.

10. Spatial Planning and Development

Issues:

  • seems that money is being captured from developers and spent on increased rules, and zones encroaching on activities such as dog walking or water users, and increased enforcement of those zones
  • Impact on water quality of streams and rivers flowing into the Exe
  • impact of more dog walkers on the East side of the estuary
  • Ensure green spaces and access to rivers are maintained and not compromised by housing or commercial buildings
  • ‘- to identify and focus on issues which are addressed in current regulations
    – to assess and co-ordinate where appropriate with other agencies
  • ‘- Coastal squeeze of Exe Estuary SPA habitats
  • There has been significant commercial and residential development in the Exe catchment area, some of which has been approved by Planning Appeals. More robust policies are required, especially to ensure adequate infrastructure provisions.

Actions:

  • should be more focus and investment in a softer education, awareness and working together approach rather than the officious rules and zones approach
  • Monitor water quality of streams and rivers and amend local plan accordingly
  • Another countryside park in the Exmouth area
  • Ensure new development conserves existing historic buildings and character.
  • ‘- Support Local Planning Authorities in spatial planning around the estuary that supports adaptation

11. Farming and Farmed Landscapes

Issues:

  • ‘- Again, without statutory frameworks, such policy becomes weak. However, continued development and working with relevant stakeholders in East Devon is to be encouraged
    – it is suggested could/should be expanded to all area/regional councils part of the EEMP
  • still a problem with run off
  • Issue: Need to ensure there are sustainable farming practices within and above EEMP boundary.
  • Issue: Farming activities could deliver more for nature.
  • Reduce harmful agricultural run off into the estuary

Actions:

  • Farms need to have vegetation buffers areas to reduce the speed of run-off and reduce pollution.
  • Action: Work with partners to ensure implementation. Eg SWW catchment initiatives and WCRT initiatives.
  • Action: Work with farmers and landowners to provide corridors for nature in the estuary and supporting wet habitats (including appropriate management of functionally linked land that provides feeding and high tide refuge habitat for wintering birds). Encourage entry into agri-environment schemes and farm clusters? Opportunity for landscape scale ELMS scheme.

12. Fisheries

Issues:

  • Allow the resurgent mussel beds on Bull Hill to grow
  • Allow oyster beds in the estuary to expand
  • invasive oyster species is very sharp and can injure water users
  • ‘- lack of understanding of actual impacts – these need to be properly defined and quantified
    – to provide recent evidence for the most harmful impacts to the habitat, causes and reasons
    – to provide segmented risk assessments
  • Amount of Hand Gathering taking place on the Exe Estuary
  • The amount and spread of pacific oysters on the Exe Estuary
  • encourage improved water quality and habitat for fish/shellfish and wildlife.

Actions:

  • Limit commercial gathering/exploitation of mussels and oysters to mid river dredging( not on drying areas) or designated oyster cages.
  • encourage collection/harvesting of these invasive species
  • Promote the code of conduct on bait collection and crab tiling. Devon and Severn IFCA started the process of a handworking byelaw. However this has been put on hold due to resources but will hope to develop this further in the near future.
  • Work with Natural England (NE) to ensure effective coordination of pacific oyster management actions at landscape level. There should be clear direction from NE on what further action needs to be taken to manage pacific oysters.

13. Water-Based Recreation

Issues:

  • Speeding
  • Jet skis
  • Recreational use of the river ha a low impact on the overall environment and other users affected are of very low numbers. Users should allow others to use the area and not expect it to be managed purely for their interest and enjoyment. Funds could be used in a much more beneficial way to protect enhance the environment.
  • Channel depth from SWM to Ch no 7 & 8
  • Enforcement with punitive rather than token fine for speeding
  • officious approach to what should be a programme of education and culture/mindset change
  • need to adopt an approach of enforcement by consent – e.g. limited length of waterski area results in most boats skiing beyond boundary
  • speed limit across whole estuary is too low so people regularly break it
  • Speeding vessels, particularly through moorings and around other water users
  • Vessel helms being unaware of the impact that they make – Education
  • Need to create a sensible area for water sports in the estuary that will cause the least disturbance to wildlife.
  • Change the current ski area.
  • Have regard to the REAL facts and figures about the effect of recreational use in the Exe Estuary using research by Professor John Goss-Custard.
  • Realise that bird life is not significantly affected by recreational use.
  • Lack of knowledge of rules of the water
  • Lack of knowledge of speed limits for powered craft
  • Children jumping of bridges and pontoons in front of water craft causing a nuisance and possibly causing injury/distress to other water users
  • ‘- there is no current published risk assessment of the River and its byelaws etc. This is a requirement of the Marine Safety Code, and is several years overdue.
    – when indicating impact on wildlife – this has to be properly defined, qualified and quantified. I suggest that the words used simply inflame, particularly where tthere is no agreed evidence to support actions
    – policing implies a legal framework – there is none. If these issues are material then it is the duty of the Authorities to seek legal frameworks. They need to address this issue.
  • Disturbance from boaters through ignorance and/or willful disregard of the bylaws and legal protection of protected habitats and species in the estuary
  • Covid restrictions have increased the human use of the area.
  • Dog walking is still a big problem on the Exmouth side.
  • Actually, water users especially non pwered users have been unfairly discriminated against throughout this whole process. The original study was flawed, anda UEA Ecology professor agreed, and everyone in the partnership ignored it because it didn’t fit with the partnerships prejudices.
  • Swimmers sharing recreational areas with kitesurfers and jetskis
  • Issue: Lack of clarity on the effectiveness of existing water based recreation management measures.
  • Issue: Not enough resource to effectively manage water based recreation and enforce as needed.
  • Issue: No holistic recreational strategy that takes into account the roles of Exe Estuary Partnership and SEDESMS partnership.
  • Issue: Changing interests in water based recreation, eg recent increase in paddleboarding.
  • Our members are responsible water users and have been proactive in producing the Kitesurfing Code of Conduct and Spot guides. We have assisted in publicising the seasonal wildlife refuge zones and the Club together with British Kitesports emphasise responsible and safe kiting.
  • We do not consider that further regulation is necessary in relation to water based recreation.

Actions:

  • Enforcement
  • Better publicity at the slipways
  • Arrange a dredging programme.
  • Enforcement
  • end the ‘enforcement’ approach and move to a wider campaign of education and behavior change in a positive way by moving the majority of users to feel part of a move to use the estuary better for the environment – simply the name ‘patrol boat’ or ‘officer’ will turn many against it and is divisive
  • encourage responsible behaviour with softer boundaries – maybe allow faster movement in the channel with slower speeds allowed across the estuary
  • lengthen the water ski area to ‘enforce by consent’ by providing a viable area that is big enough for a number of boats at any time to ski and to provide a viable length of run before turning – by having such a small area it becomes too congested and turns are required too often which results in boats skiing elsewhere in the estuary
  • Create new ski area.
  • Stop using restricted areas of the estuary which do not benefit wildlife
  • Publicise the correct data about estuary bird life using long term research from Bournemouth University
  • All local water sports bodies to be contacted and training offered on rules of the water
  • More patrols to inform and educate on speed limits
  • More patrols to enforce safety and educate the dangers of reckless behaviour
  • Educate and inform
  • Enforce
  • Harbour Master now patrols the area and helps to manage.
  • habitat patrol boat and foot patrols will slowly educate people.
  • Harbour Master has made a difference with water users and will improve behaviour with regular patrols.
  • Engage PROPERLY with all the sailing and kayaking and rowing clubs, and individual water users to redress the situation.
  • There are few areas suitable for swimming (rather than bathing). The best swimming area used my many outdoor swimmers is north of the new lifeboat station outside of the front estuary currents. Kite surfers are starting to use this area too. They move very fast and have hydrofoils which could cut a swimmer in half.
  • Action: Review the existing measures and their effectiveness.
  • Action: Find funds/work with partners to increase mitigation and patrol officers.
  • Action: The estuary requires a holistic recreational strategy to ensure appropriate protection for wildlife and habitats, which are internationally important and designated. It should include bylaws and the wildlife refuges and recreation zones etc and take into account the growing interest in recreational water sport.
  • Action: Promote Wise accreditation for companies operating in the estuary.

14. Tourism

Issues:

  • ‘- economic issues driving growth need proper planning, and so need to be in context to other plans etc – which are held by EEMP members
    – In focusing on certain issues without context, such planning may be seen out of context. Any “Issue” as indicated may be interpreted as negative discrimination, withour properly qualifying the benefits
  • Too many cyclists at peak times on Exmouth Dock
  • Too many passengers on the dock at peak times
  • Too many additional businesses operating from the dock at peak times
  • The seafront and estuary should be treated differently. There is arguably scope for promotion of the seafront however it is fairly well used year round already.
  • The estuary is different in character and we see no point in promoting this and then having to develop mitigation measures as a result of the promotion.

Actions:

  • Increase the number of landing places
  • Spread the activities away from the dock area

15. Public Transport, Access and Land Based Recreation

Issues:

  • Lack of launching sites for the public onto the estuary
  • cycle path simply ‘spits you out’ onto the roads through the villages and towns on the route
  • many footpaths (particularly in Lympstone) have had ‘kissing’ gates installed to stop cyclists using them but they also block wheelchairs and pushchairs
  • ‘- please consult and challenge with East Devon on these matters and please ask them to consult with landowners to at least check if the paths indicated are public paths, and…..to take some consideration for impact on people on the periphery against a minority of militant people using/abusing this
    – Can the lack of ‘promotion’ be qualified – why is this statement really made?
  • Signage of the route of the Exe Estuary Trail
  • Research how different users obtain information and tailor provision accordingly.

Actions:

  • Create launching sites at available locations if any.
  • work with DCC to implement designated sections of these roads for cyclists.
  • change roads which the cycle path follows to one way to introduce a separated cycle path
  • encourage the removal of ‘kissing’ gates which whilst blocking cyclists from footpaths, also block wheelchairs and pushchairs
  • Re-address what the purpose is.
  • Improve the siting of the signage at the end of Langerwehe Way to ensure users take the approved route away from Exmouth Quay Estate and down Victoria Road
  • Develop downloadable app so walkers, cyclists can access info without having to get a leaflet. QR codes on all signage so people can access more info (which could be seasonally adjusted as relevant?). Information on the wildlife and biodiversity importance of the estuary and how people can act to protect this should always be a part of all promotion of access to the Exe Estuary Trail, etc.

16. Navigation

Issues:

  • Continued silting of the estuary approach
  • Movement of the channel
  • Maintaining Channel
  • Education of byelaws and impact of users
  • Navigation buoys need to be moved to match movements in the estuary.
  • There are few suitable slipways to safely launch craft into the estuary at all states of the tide. Mamhead Slip is a particularly dangerous example.
  • ‘- for ECC to do its duty and provide a risk assessment of current bye-laws and required issues as part of the Port Marine Safety Code – something it continues to fail to do
    – no publication and/or communication plan of the current Harbour Bye-laws to stakeholders and no request for feedback
    – the mixed commercial and Authority role adopted by ECC and its lack of support or even loss making endevours affecting other stakeholders
  • Silting of the channel
  • Water skiing outside of their area.
  • Jet ski use within the river.
  • The shallow areas between safe water mark and number 8 channel mark are quite dangerous in wind against tide conditions
  • There is a right of navigation in the EXe and under maritime law we are permitted into otherwise off limit areas for reasons of safewty, something that the partnership has had trouble understanding at times.
  • Jet skiers

Actions:

  • Dredge the approach
  • Regularly survey the approach and change channel markers as necessary
  • Education
  • Policing of river
  • Workshop once a year to invite interested parties to attend
  • ‘- ECC to review its duties and consult
    – ECC to be able to define navigable waters – up through the river, and the Clyst
    – EEMP to pressurise ECC rather than simply ‘consulting’ or at least to declare what the role of the organisations is when there is possible conflict, and to indicate what resolution scheme is/should be adopted
  • Dredging or control of the Warren sand transport is needed to stabilise the channel.
  • Water ski area needs to be moved to deeper water and patrolled.
  • Jet ski users need enforcement and education.
  • Dredge or provide training walls in the shallow areas between safe water mark and number 8 channel mark
  • become conversant with laws surrounding harbours and rights of navigation.
  • Ban them (Jet skiers)

17. Commercial and Other Uses

Issues:

  • ‘- the PUG does not provide feedback, and so it is suggested is not fit for this purpose. Its role is to assess the risk declared by the Authority, and to challenge the Authority in its role. It is not there to increase awareness, and as currently contructed largely only communicates with its own closed user gorups.
    – ECC and the PUG to follow the Port Marine Safety Code. This requires a review of current statutory instruments, and feedback with stakeholders via the PUG. The Harbour Masters role is to take these risks to the Executive (Councillors), which may for practiclity form a Harbour Board. But the duty is for the Harbour Master to communicate risk to the Councillors, and consult via the PUG (or other lines of communication) with stakeholders.
  • The Exeter City Harbour Board will set direction for the Harbour Master in future,
  • There is no direct engagement with Sailing/boating clubs to discuss management of the river.
  • Most water users are unaware of EEMPs existence.

Actions:

  • Discuss plans and issues witht the HM to set on the agenda for the Harbour Board.
  • Meet and discuss issues with the management committees of boating clubs.
  • give a presentation to each boating club to outline the work and responsibilities of EEMP.

Further comments / suggestions

  • There is too much emphasis on disturbance of wildlife. My own experience e.g in the East Coast of the US is that birds quickly adapt to boats passing close. There are may osprey nests on channel beacons and yachts pass within feet of them and the birds simply sit there.
  • I’m very grateful to you for your efforts including this opportunity to feed back. My responses have been repetitive and unimaginative, I apologise, but to get people to stop behaving badly (speed and pollution) offenders need to be hit in the pocket.
  • Money collected for planning should not be funding habitation initiatives alone. There are many other deserving projects such as water quality.
  • Overall, much work has gone into this plan, and is to be applauded. The Officers provide excellent service and facilitate much regarding the River. However, it would be better served by having a more defined objective, and to declare its role / relationship with its supporting Councils, and to serve the general public and stakeholders by providing pressure on each Council/Authority in order to hold them to account in a way which better serves public interest.
  • Climate change is going to accelerate the changes around the estuary. The plan and partnership need to think big and bold and deliver ahead of impacts being felt if there is to be a sustainable future for the estuary.
  • We recommend that the revisions effectively reflect our main concerns and recommendations:
  • Need for a holistic and forward looking approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation for effective conservation of wildlife habitats (including the functionally linked land around the estuary used by wintering birds).
  • Need for a holistic approach to managing land and water based recreation.
  • Management plan to include SMART objectives with monitoring and review of progress.
  • I object to the way this consultation is being conducted. The questionnaire is unduly long and will deter many from responding. The way the questions are structred give an inherent bias to promoting further wildlife protection measures while restricting recreational use.
  • For example:

1 questions 17,21, 28 and sections whd3, whd9, sp2, and pcp 2 call for greater expenditure on environmental monitoring, where the results of such monitoring is used as justification for further restricting recreational use.

2 questions 25, 26, 27, and 28 as well as sections whd6, whd7, whd8call fro greater expansion of exclusion zones and regulations.

3 questions 21cc1, 28 and sections whd5 and wbr1 seek to limit and control recreational use of the estuary.

4 question 17cc4,28whd2, whd4 whd8 and fm8 allude to expanding habitats and flooding the Clyst, an Idea which was discussed in detail and rejected several years ago.

  • I believe future plans should be based upon the views expressed at the stakeholder forum on sept 15. which I show in box 82 below.
  • The comments are representative of the large number attending the forum and generally call for greater use of the Estuary. It is notable that the section on the environment reads as follows:

“1.  There was a feeling that the general tone of the environment objective[s] should be toned down a bit i.e. less stringent or strongly worded toward the environment.

2    There was also a strong aversion to the notion and inclusion of the word ‘enhance’ with respect to the   environment in any ‘objective’ statement’.  Preference was for the word ‘maintain’ as an objective of environmental management.

  • Finally it is essential that further consultation is allowed before the plan is presented next year as a fait accompli