Dartford Warbler - a heathland specialist in East Devon (Northeast Wildlife)
Our Annual Review 2009-2010 provides you with a summary of the East Devon AONB Partnership activities last year. It is your signpost to finding out more about our work. The Partnership is a joint initiative working to help conserve and manage the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – part of the same family of protected landscapes as National Parks. This Annual Review summarises our activities, further details of which can be seen at www.eastdevonaonb.org.uk.
out for bats initiative continues to support not only the bats but the farm and woodland habitats favoured by the Greater Horseshoe bats.
When I first attended AONB Partnership meetings, I was impressed by the range of knowledge and depth of interest of the partners. Now, as Chairman, I am grateful for all their contributions even if the workload falls on Chris and his capable, communicating team. As Mike Ellingham mentioned last year, acquiring funding for the ‘Making it Local’ programme was a major achievement in 2008-2009 and this year the activities of communities within and around the East Devon and Blackdown Hills AONBs have begun to benefit. Once again the Sustainable Development Fund has supported local initiatives that relate closely to the themes of the Management Strategy. In the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity it is hoped that more applications relating to this topic will be submitted and that the Partnership can support the delivery of new Parish biodiversity audits, in final stages of preparation. The Water Vole project and Southern Damselfly introduction were supported by our Sustainable Development Fund last year and our Looking
As one involved in habitat management I would agree with Huw Irranca Davies, at the time Minister for the Natural Environment, writing in the National Association for AONB journal ‘Outstanding’ that realising the economic value of biodiversity is vital. He quoted a study that estimates the benefits of protecting ecosystems and biodiversity outweighs the costs by 100 to 1. Personally I would like more wetland areas associated with our river systems to help reduce flooding as well as benefitting wildlife, more woodland to store carbon and, in due course the conversion of much of our hilltop woodland from exotic conifers to native hardwoods. After three years, the successful Parishscapes project draws to a close having achieved much, while reports from its final conference speak volumes for Phil Planel’s planning and involvement, stimulating volunteers such as Martin Smith to contribute so much to this historic landscapes project, has also been vital. Donald Campbell - Chairman of the East Devon AONB Partnership and President of Axe Vale and District Conservation Society
2009 - 2010 AONB Partnership highlights include:
Southern damsefly reintroduction at DWT Venn Ottery Reserve, supported by the Sustainable Development Fund (Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust)
• Delivery of Making it Local £2.4m funding, together with Blackdown Hills AONB, from the Regional Development Agency • Delivery of the SITA supported project “Looking out for bats” • Final year of Heritage Lottery funded “Parishscapes” project • Delivery of Sustainable Development Fund supporting projects to the value of £515,276 • Diverse range of promotion, events and activities with others • Continued delivery of the Coastal Corridor Action Plan • Joint Projects for conserving and enhancing the AONB’s landscape qualities - Equestrian Guidelines, Highways Protocol, undergrounding power lines
East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty…making the landscape work…www.eastdevonaonb.org.uk
The second East Devon AONB Management Strategy (2009 – 2014) is structured around th a series of objectives, which guide the work of the AONB team and the Partnership. Our wor whilst at the same time conserving and enhancing its special qualities. Theme 1: Landscape In this section we summarise how our work contributes to the delivery of the following objectives: • Landscape character and historic environment; • Environmental quality and climate; • Biodiversity and Geodiversity; and • Coast. “Parsishcapes” – Bringing the past to life This project, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Natural England and East Devon District Council, ends in May 2010. It has is exceeded expectations. With all tithe maps for the AONB now digitised and strong support from volunteers, the project has also fitted the old maps to a modern map base and translated the apportionment information (the written account of the tithe maps) as supporting information, enabling the production of modern translations of land cover. This has involved huge volunteer support from individuals and local amenity organisations alike. To see the digitised tithe maps and further details visit: http://www.eastdevonaonb.org.uk/Parishscapes.htm
Parishscapes tithe maps inspired school children to learn more about an old silk mill at Newton Poppleford
Character Assessment Landscape Management Guidelines This year we ran a joint workshop with the Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon District Council’s planning department on the use of the Landscape Character Assessment Management Guidelines, checking the internal systems were in place and working effectively. Other joint working has involved the five Devon AONBs working with Devon County Council on developing a consistent approach on the county wide landscape character assessment. The AONB team continues to use the guidelines to respond to planning consultations and land-based schemes (e.g. Woodland Grant Schemes or Higher Level Stewardship). It is anticipated that further work around the development of capacity or sensitivity mapping linked to the Local Development Framework will develop in the near future.
Uncovering ‘disappered houses’ in Northleigh, a community archaeology activity
Landscape Character Guidelines can be used to conserve and enhance the special landscape qualities through the planning system.
hree themes – landscape, sustainability and management. Each theme is broken down into rk with our partners helps ensure the area continues to thrive as a living, working landscape, Stewardship of the Landscape Further advice has been provided to a number of new and existing agreement holders within the AONB this year and contact with one land owner has led to the designation of a new county wildlife site in the Roncombe Valley, Sidbury. The AONB remains engaged in the targeting review process and has provided feedback to Natural England on the National Character Area descriptions of the area to ensure that landowners can benefit from changes in the targeting of the Stewardship scheme. “Looking out for Bats”Greater Horseshoe Bat Project. The AONB team is now in the second year of this SITA funded project. Funding has also come from the Sid Vale Association, Axe Vale and District Conservation Society, Devon County Council and East Devon District Council. The project, focusing on Beer Quarry Caves, an internationally and nationally important bat hibernaculum, builds on the AONB’s previous work to monitor activities and facilitate dialogue between the cave manager, its owners and Natural England. The project aims to deliver biodiversity targets and landscape enhancements across a wide area.
Restoring and enhancing bat feeding areas following our bat tracking work
Bat identification evenings (Offwell Woodland Education Centre)
Achievements to date include: • Completion of 47 farm bat surveys that identified 71 bat roosts belonging to 5 different species of bats. • 26 bat tracking nights involving over 1200 volunteer hours of lost sleep! • identification of maternity roosts within 10 km of the hibernaculum • 6 school talks delivered by the District Council Education Ranger • Cave visits for over 260 children led by our very own bat man – Pete Youngman • A 3 minute webfilm at www.eastdevonaonb.org.uk/lookingoutforbats • Farm walks and agri-environment advice events for 18 local landowners and farmers • Hedgerow enhancements and barn/building restorations • Bat awareness events with groups such as Colyton Scouts and East Devon Farm Holidays
‘Looking out for bats’ reaches parts of Beer Quarry Caves other wildlife projects can’t! (Simon Horn/Sidmouth Herald)
Theme 2: Sustainability In this section we summarise how our work contributes to the delivery of the following objectives: • Access, Recreation and Tourism; • Planning and Development; • Transport and Highways; and • Rural Economy and Services.
1SW- off road cycling project The AONB has supported the development of this project which aims to encourage more people to cycle off-road across the South West, benefiting their health and well being, as well as local businesses in and around the protected landscapes. The project is also about providing high quality and consistent information through activities like the South West Protected Landscapes Adventure Cycle Map (www.1sw.org.uk).
Coastal Corridor Action Plan We continue to deliver priorities in this plan this year whilst developing a ‘Jurassic Coast’ wide coordinated approach with Dorset Countryside, AONB and World Heritage Site colleagues and others. We completed the following actions on the Coastal Corridor Action Plan • Successfully included in the “Unlocking Coastal Heritage”- South West Coast Path co-ordinated Historic Landscapes bid to the Rural Development Plan for England (RDPE). High Peak, Beer Head, Branscombe Mouth and Masons Trail in the Branscombe and Beer area, will be primary enhancement areas, with Berry Camp a reserve site. • Phase 2 of Weston Platts, with the National Trust, including linhay restoration and interpretation. • Supporting partners under the ‘Understanding and Respect’ chapter, through such projects as an Otter Valley Association leaflet and East Devon Heathweek • Contribution towards the successful marketing of the Sidmouth Hopper bus for another season. • Development of a draft map of priority land where habitat intervention is required. Sustainable grazing of calcareous grassland adjacent to Beer Quarry Caves SSSI through capital investment
Creating a link off the South West Coast Path into Weston Platts to interpret our coastal farming heritage (National Trust)
East Devon AONB has over 160km of legally accessible off-road cycling routes (source Devon County Council)
Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) Following Defra’s Sustainable Development Fund initial three year support, Natural England maintained this programme in recognition of the grassroots activity the fund has helped to grow. It funds projects that offer social, economic and/or environmental benefits whilst also safeguarding natural beauty and local character of our finest landscapes. The fund offers great rewards for local communities whilst raising the profile of the AONB as an area where sustainability issues are important.
Restoration of water vole habitat, Tedbridge, Coly Valley (EDDC Mervyn Newman/SDF)
The East Devon AONB awarded £46,822 to 11 projects, many of which are referred to in this review. When combined with match funding and ‘in-kind’ costs this actually represents over £515,276 worth of local action delivered in 2009-2010. The Sustainable Development Fund assists the delivery of the AONB Management Strategy themes and enables the Partnership to engage with a variety of new customers and organisations, from the business, community and education sectors.
Business Information Point have delivered over 110 training days so far for local businesses, with support from East Devon District Council and Making it Local. The graph below shows well these sessions have been received. www.bipwestdevon.biz Have increased business skills
Increased sales 40
Jobs created/ safeguarded
Effect on business Fifty one photovoltaic panels installed at Shute Community Primary School
SDF supported Seaton Visitor Centre Trust, Seaton Chambers of Commerce and the Axe Valley Pedallers with their Festival of Cycling (www.seatonfestivalofcycling.org.uk)
“Making it Local” (Rural Development Programme for England RDPE) The AONB team has worked closely this year with this programme, developing the operational aspects of delivery in order to get the programme fully underway. Along with the Blackdown Hills AONB, we contribute funding to the two Development Workers for the scheme through our SDF funds. These staff work with applicants to develop applications for the programme. There have been a number projects already supported by the main fund covering digital mentoring, forest apprenticeships, community shops, woodland network and business support. In addition a small grants fund has been established to help with smaller scale proposals. This is an important funding stream for both AONB’s, at a time when funding is tightening and local authority partners are looking at where their priorities are. It’s also a very positive step for this funding to come to this part of East Devon – an area of Devon where this type of socio-economic funding has rarely reached. (www.eastdevonaonb.org.uk/makingitlocal)
Tom Houlden, forest apprentice with Clinton Devon Estates. Four other apprentices are based with Klenn Kutt, Forest Fuels and Forestry Commission.
Theme 3: Communication and Management In this section we summarise how our work contributes to the delivery of the following objectives: • Access, Recreation and Tourism; • Management, Organisation and Partnership. Interpretation and Communication We continue to develop strong working relationships with the business sector, in particular through the Association for East Devon Chambers of Commerce. We are also represented on the Exeter & Essential Devon Area Tourism Partnership Board (www.exeterandessentialdevon.com). The small woods network developed jointly with the AONB and Forestry Commission has been developed and members of this group are now being encouraged to join the Blackdown & East Devon Woodland Association, which has been expanded to include East Devon as a result of support from SDF.
We rely heavily on the internet for communicating AONB and partner activities and we continue to seek new ways of making existing work available in either audio or audio/visual formats. As of May 2009 we introduced new, more accurate web-monitoring software – google analytics. However, this no longer allows us to make ‘like-for-like’ comparisons with previous years. In 2009/10 (Mid May to end March 2010) of the 18,400 visits to our website www.eastdevonaonb.org.uk, 72% were new visitors. Over 52,500 pages of information were viewed – approximately 3 pages per session on average and spending on average over 2 ½ minutes. Excepting the homepage, the most popular pages visited have been the combined Parishscapes pages (18%) and the Visiting pages (9%). ‘Back to the Future’ is a film digitisation project, led by the East Devon AONB, working with community groups to conserve our valuable film heritage and make accessible to all. £8k has been secured from South West Screen, together with a contribution from the Lyme Regis Museum. Technical advice and support is being provided by ex-BBC producer and Exmouth resident Andy Price along with the Lympstone Film Society.
Liaison and consultation Liaison and engagement has been maintained with a wide range of agencies and organisations, both regional and local: • National Association for AONB (Management Group and working groups) Join the Blackdown & East Devon Woodland Association at www.woodbiz.co.uk
More than 4,800 (increase of over 1,300) members of public participated in or benefitted from our guided walks, mountain bike rides and other events, such as Heath Week festival day and our comprehensive talks programme. Audiences include families, retired, activity enthusiasts, farmers and other private landowners. We have also provided a guided walk to the local Parkinson’s Group, in order to work with different groups not able to attend other public events – which was used to highlight ‘easy access’ facilities that our SDF has supported in the past. We also held a stand at the Honiton Show with Ian Shears’ mobile wood-fired bread oven demonstrating the link between land and food and Natural England promoting the Environmental Stewardship scheme.
• South West Protected Landscapes Forum (Steering Group and regional projects) • Dorset and East Devon World Heritage Site (Steering Group and working groups) • Pebblebed Trust and Clinton Devon Estates • Blackdowns and East Devon Liaison group (Environmental Stewardship) • Part of the Executive Committee of the Axe Vale & District Conservation Society • Exeter & Essential Devon Area Tourism Partnership (with over 270 members) For a small team, the AONB team continues to maintain a good level of involvement with strategic developments, commenting on strategies as appropriate and representing the interests of the AONB whenever possible.
The Partnership This year is the seventh year of operation for the AONB Partnership and the first year for the new Chairman, Donald Campbell. The Partnership oversees the implementation of the AONB Management Strategy and delivery of the Sustainable Development Fund. Positive dialogue is maintained by the Partnership at meetings and attendance is good. Councillor representation remains strong and local parish representatives are invited as the meetings move round the area. Planning and Policy The AONB Policy and Planning Protocols continue to direct our delivery processes and planning consultations have more recently been influenced through the use of the Landscape Character Assessment. The South West Protected Landscapes Forum and National Association for AONBs have assisted in policy guidance and have made comments on regional and national policy development on behalf of AONBs. The AONB Manager continues to act on behalf of, or in consultation with, the E SCAP D AONB Partnership on N A EL ES, TH HORS OU planning and policy matters Y AND and has commented on 10 planning applications this year. KEEPIN E TO GUID S TRIAN SCAPE EQUES TED LAND C PROTE
RS G HO
East Devon AONB – one of a much bigger family The National Association for AONBs is the national voice for the 47 AONBs across the UK
• AONBs are strategic national assets – they cover 8000 square miles and involve 700 elected members • AONBs are about managing positive landscape change • These are locally managed, nationally important areas, dealing with global issues.
Ottery St Mary
South West Coast Path, looking towards Otter Estuary and Budleigh Salterton
Monitoring East Devon AONB and State of the AONB Indicators We now have regular recreational data for key routes and locations in the AONB which informs and complements our wider ‘state of the AONB’ monitoring work coordinated through the South West Protected Landscape Forum.
East Devon AONB
Budleigh Salterton Exmouth
East Devon 2009 - 2010 Finances Core budget Core costs (£) Expenditure
East Devon DC
* Plus £1834 in kind support services from EDDC covering core and SDF
Volunteers help dismantle the 60 year old Quonsett hut and then putting finishing touches to new Umborne Community Hall (credit Helene Buse/East Devon AONB Sustainable Development Fund)
The East Devon AONB Partnership is a joint initiative; • Core funded by Natural England, Devon County Council and East Devon District Council; • Representative of a range of land-owning, environmental, community and business interests shown below; • Guiding the implementation of the Management Strategy and work of the AONB team
East Devon AONB Partnership, East Devon Business Centre, Heathpark, Honiton EX14 1SF Tel/Fax: 01404 46663 Email: email@example.com www.eastdevonaonb.org.uk