Pebblebed Heaths (c) KOR Communications

Three Councils to work together to protect South East Devon coast and countryside

Teignbridge, East Devon District Councils and Exeter City Council have joined together to form a new cross-boundary partnership that works across the three authority areas to protect three internationally important conservation sites.

The three councils have established the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee, a partnership helping to protect places such as the Exe Estuary, Dawlish Warren and the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths for future generations to enjoy.

With a growing population, there is likely to be more activity on these significant conservation sites. Protecting these sites for residents and visitors alike is important for a number of reasons, including providing safe areas for all users to enjoy and caring for the bird populations they support. Human activity on or close to the sites can cause disturbance or even death of protected bird species.

This new Committee is working with partners including Natural England, Clinton Devon Estates, National Trust, RSPB, Exe Estuary Management Partnership and Devon Wildlife Trust to off-set the effects of new developments and population growth on these protected conservation sites.

Funding will come from developer contributions on new residential housing across the three areas and within a 10km “zone of influence” from the protected sites. Measures and initiatives planned include a patrol boat on the Exe Estuary, a dog project officer, a review of codes of conduct, new and updated visitor publicity and signage and two new wardens who will educate and engage with the public and ensure byelaws are observed.

Chairman of the Joint Executive Committee, East Devon’s Deputy Leader and spokesman for strategic partnerships, Councillor Andrew Moulding, said:

 This joint working between our three Councils is a really important step in protecting our beautiful coast and countryside.

By working together through collective financial decision-making, we can share resources to protect important areas of conservation and improve enjoyment for residents and visitors alike.

Councillor Humphrey Clemens, Teignbridge District Council’s Executive Member for Planning and Housing said:

This new cross-boundary working will safeguard important conservation sites, as well as helping Teignbridge develop a number of strategic Suitable Alternative Natural Green Spaces (SANGS). These will provide new, accessible countryside areas which will ease the pressure on the protected sites by providing recreational alternatives for future generations to enjoy.

Councillor Rachel Sutton, Exeter City Council’s Lead Councillor for City Development, said:

This collaboration between local authorities will benefit all our respective communities.

Having access to these attractive areas for recreation and leisure for city residents and visitors alike, is a priority. However, we need to do this in a managed way to keep visitors and wildlife safe.

We’re looking at joint ways of working and sharing resources to provide best value to Exeter City Council, East Devon and Teignbridge District Councils.

Dr Sam Bridgewater, Nature Conservation Manager for Clinton Devon Estates, said:

The Pebblebed Heaths are hugely important for nature, and a very popular visitor location.

Clinton Devon Estates and the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust welcome the opportunity to work with partners to protect and enhance this special place for nature and people alike.

Tony Whitehead, RSPB SW Public Affairs Manager, said:

We’re delighted, after many years of work developing this strategic approach, that the inaugural meeting of the Committee has started the ball rolling that will enable Exeter and the other settlements around the Exe Estuary, the Pebblebed Heaths and Dawlish Warren - all of which are internationally important for rare and vulnerable wildlife in their own right – to fulfil their economic and social potential without compromising the wildlife that makes those sites so special.

Harry Barton, Chief Executive of Devon Wildlife Trust, said:

The Exe Estuary, Dawlish Warren and the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths are incredibly important sites for Devon’s wildlife. We are pleased that the three Local Authorities have now joined forces to form the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee to protect these vital natural assets for future generations. 

Stephanie Clark, Exe Estuary Officer of the Exe Estuary Management Partnership, said:

 The joint working between all three Councils to manage sustainable development indicates how partnership working can successfully protect the future of important areas such as the Exe Estuary, whilst avoiding duplication of work.

The Exe Estuary Management Partnership has been involved with the Habitat Regulations Partnership from the beginning and hopes to continue to have involvement into the future, to ensure that a balance of interests between users and wildlife is achieved.

At the meeting of the Joint Executive Committee on 29 June 2016, the 2016 Business Plan and a Five Year Delivery Programme was agreed to protect important conservation sites.

Measures include:

  • A review of zones in the Exe      Estuary and at Warren Point to make them safer and protect wildlife, and      implementing zones for particular access. This will help to make it      clearer for users where they are and why and provide space for different      types of users. At the same time this will ensure areas for protected      birds are outside those used for leisure. A comprehensive consultation      with communities regarding zones is planned.
  • A review of codes of conduct for      all the different types of groups using the Exe Estuary, Dawlish Warren      and East Devon Pebblebed Heaths, so they can use the areas safely, within      the law, in consideration of other users, and at the same time, protect      nature.
  • Funding for a patrol boat on the      Exe Estuary, to keep all users safe, protect wildlife.
  • Other measures include monitoring      of petalwort (a rare, small green plant which is under threat), a dog      project officer, and new dog waste bins on the Pebblebed Heaths.
  • Funding towards a new visitor      centre for Dawlish Warren, which will require match funding.