The ACA supports the SAS campaign to clean our seas and estuaries of sewage-related materials. The following message was received from SAS on 23rd May 2016:-
Today, we’re taking your support for the Sewage Free Seas campaign to Westminster with us to be presented to the Environment Agency at our All Party Parliamentary Group. Your support joins 13,000 fellow ocean enthusiasts, surfers, water users and environmentalists calling for Sewage Free Seas. This huge response, in just six weeks, shows just how concerned coastal communities are about sewage pollution at our beaches.
We will make the case for Sewage Free Seas on behalf of you and all our supporters, calling for the Environment Agency and water companies to stop sewage pollution ruining some of the nation’s best beaches.
The meeting will bring together Members of Parliament to hear evidence from speakers from the European Centre for the Environment & Human Health, surf industry leaders, Surfing GB, the shellfish industry, the Marine Conservation Society and Leah. Leah is a young surfer who fell seriously ill after surfing at her favourite spot whilst a sewer overflow, hidden upstream, discharged untreated human sewage into the sea.
We rely on the support of our members to enable us to campaign for Sewage Free Seas at the highest level. Supporting Surfers Against Sewage with a regular donation is the best way you can help us achieve our long term vision of a clean, safe and protected ocean environment. Please join us today, for just £2 a month.
We’ll email you again after the All Party Parliamentary Group to let you know the outcomes and what that means for protecting your health and our special beaches.
Thanks again for your support
Water releases from the Avon dam have been negotiated by the Devon Avon Group during dry spells of weather in order to facilitate, for example, the migration of salmon smolt. Full details are available in Notes from the DAG meetings, elsewhere on this website.
Currently (10th May) the river water level at the Loddiswell gauging station is 0.28m – at the low end of the normal range of 0.25m-1.80m. Therefore, the Environment Agency has triggered, with the close collaboration of SWW, the release of an extra 65ML per day of water from the dam between 3.00pm on Friday 6th May and Monday 9th May. Most of the benefit will be in the upper reaches of the river, which for many years have run very low during dry weather.
The South Hams Society’s AGM on 25th April will be followed by a talk by David Pinder on Operation Neptune , the survey and appeal which have enabled the National Trust to become easily the largest coastal landowner in the country. It owns – and permanently protects – almost 800 miles of coast. We have particular cause to be thankful for that here in South Devon.
Click on the link below for more details:-
Click on this link to check the river records at Loddiswell Gauging Station:-
Our next ACA beach clean will be on SATURDAY 13th JULY 2013– Cockleridge beach, Bigbury on Sea (opposite Bantham) at
3.00pm. LW will be around 4.00pm.
All are welcome but no unaccompanied minors, please. Please come equipped withstout footwear, gardening gloves, warm clothes, etc. If you have any spare collection sacks, they would be useful.
In response to the recent spate of commercial fishing by use of nets, we have been agitating for some visible action by the responsible agencies. Nigel Mortimer , Estuaries Officer of th AONB has sent this message:-
There has been a flurry of reports of fishing boats openly netting within the Avon estuary recently and there was been much concern that nothing appeared to be happening despite the many phone calls. I am assured that the netting was checked but at the time of the visits and within the byelaws that the officers were warranted to enforce, the vessels were netting within those byelaws. However, as part of the ‘Water of Dartmouth’, the Avon estuary is a Several Fishery owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, meaning that there is no public right to fish or collect any bait from its tidal waters (including foreshore). Whilst there has been no intention by the Duchy of Cornwall or the lessees of the estuary to be obstructive to fishermen involved in their pursuit for personal & non-commercial leisure purposes of responsible fishing and bait collection at present levels, they have been clear that they do not allow commercial fishing without licence. The enforcement officers were not able to enforce this at the time of the visit(s). The Duchy are in talks with the relevant authorities and I have received this from Neal Gray of the Marine Management Organisation,
“We encourage all members of the public to report any incidents of potential illegal fishing activity to us on 07770175479. We endeavour to act on any information provided and are actively attempting to tackle the issue of illegal fishing by enforcing the appropriate legislation available to the MMO or through partner agencies whenever possible. We are also looking at the possibility of writing to all netters administered from the Plymouth Fisheries Office and advising them of the Duchy restrictions on netting in the Avon and Kingsbridge/Salcombe areas. My colleague Will Sykes is looking into this and we hope to have something in place shortly (Will is not in the office this week). Regards Neal”
I would like to thank you for your continued support in reporting incidents around the Avon estuary – your eyes and ears do help!
Nigel Nigel Mortimer Estuaries Officer – South Devon AONB Unit Follaton House, Plymouth Rd, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5NE
01803 861465 07971 544010 (not 24/7)
Check this link for more on the fish netting story:-
The revised contact details for reporting suspected illegal fishing can be seen listed by clicking on this notice -
Weather permitting, we shall be picking up and recording any rubbish found on Cockleridge as part of the Beachwatch Big Weekend, in collaboration with the Marine Conservation Society on Sat 21st Sept 2.30pm – 3.30pm (LW~2.30pm)
Everybody is invited to come along and help. Wear gloves, boots and suitable clothing, please.
As a condition of participation, all volunteers are expected to adhere strictly to commonsense Safety Guidelines at all times and to follow the advice of the Organiser on the day as conditions may vary. The guidelines can be scrutinised by clicking here – ACA BEACH CLEANS3
Concern has been expressed about the deteriorating condition of the groynes and concrete retaining wall at the north west corner of Cockleridge Ham at the mouth of the Avon Estuary.
It has been agreed that temporary works will be done to the retaining wall in an effort to prevent further erosion by the sea over the winter. These works will include the use of chunks of conglomerated concrete from the beach (and which come from the wall) and timber shuttering. Ryan Hooper of Evans Estates will be supervising the works which are likely to commence in October.
The Duchy of Cornwall has been informed and, also, the South Devon Heritage Coast Service of South Hams District Council.
If anybody has concerns, they should contact Jonathan Aylett of Michelmore Hughes, Totnes, and or Ryan Hooper at the Evans Estate office in Bantham. It is hoped that everybody will understand that the measures being taken are with the best interests of the community at large in mind.
Thought is being given to what might be done in the longer term to protect the Ham at this point and the Estate will endeavour to keep the ACA informed about what, if any, decisions are made.
Local police officers have been working in partnership with the Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority (IFCA) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to target marine criminals. Earlier in the summer officers conducted a stop check on a vehicle towing a boat, issued a fixed penalty for offences detected and passed a photograph of the boat to the MMO. This vessel is suspected of being involved in illegal netting in the estuary around the Bigbury area. On 27th August an IFCA patrol spotted it afloat and called the MMO who recovered the boat for inspection and have since seized the engine.
On Saturday 25th January, Devon Wildlife Trust is holding an Open Day on South Efford Marsh and would like to invite local residents to come and see how the wildlife reserve is developing two years after the new tidal gate was installed. There will be a number of people there to give information about the various things to be seen, including our two local birders Rod Bone and Eric Wotton, and Anissia White will be there to update us on her botanical research on the saltmarsh. A series of guided walks is planned from 10.30am until 3.00pm. Soup and hot drinks will be available to take the chill off a winter’s day.
If you would like to take part on one of these walks DWT have asked that everyone contact them to book please, so that they can ensure that everyone gets a place, and so that they can have an idea of numbers.
By phone, Devon Wildlife Trust – 01392 279244
or email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Visitors to the marsh will also be able to use the newly completed hide which, in spite of all the awful weather, was finished just before Christmas. It has been put up about halfway down the marsh, and gives a good view over the newly developing saltmarsh and, also, over the bank behind to the river.
We have received a report of theft from a Dinghy Tender moored at Bantham Quay, Kingsbridge. The Carburretor and Air Intake were removed and stolen, this occurred around 1620-1635hrs on Saturday the 4th January 2014.
Three men and a Ford Saloon vehicle were seen in the area around this time, Male one is described as being white in his 20s wearing a grey/blue hooded top with the name NIKE to the front and tracksuit bottoms.
The second male is described as white in his 20s with light brown/blonde hair of gaunt appearance with what appeared to be a tattoo on his neck and may have been wearing spectacles he was wearing a black hooded top, dark coloured trousers and dark coloured trainers with white around the sole.
The third male is described as white, of larger build with short dark or black hair , wearing a black sweatshirt with a logo to the chest area, dark trousers and dark coloured trainers with white around the sole.
Owners of sailing vessels are asked to be aware of this incident, report any suspicious activity you may see in and around moorings to the Police promptly.
If you see or recognise the description of these men or vehicle, please call the Devon and Cornwall Police 101 no: quoting crime ref JK/14/24. Thank you
Here in Devon we are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by some beautiful and diverse wildlife hotspots. In Aveton Gifford, for example, there is a budding, thriving marshland – South Efford Marsh. Already this area is a hotspot for a wide variety of wildlife.
The children of Aveton Gifford Primary School are very lucky to have the opportunity to explore this wonderful wildlife spot. Thanks to funding from the Aune Conservation Association they will become wildlife rangers for the last half of this spring term and the first half of the summer term. They will discover what the “current environmental status” of the marshland is – essentially a snapshot of what wildlife currently lives at South Efford Marsh.
The children will explore every nook and cranny of this area with me (Maya Plass from Learn To Sea) and the help of some identification books. We will use the latest technologies to “capture” otters (trail cameras); pond dip for invertebrates in the creek; lay small mammal traps to see which rodents live in the hedgerows; sweep nets for flying invertebrates; binoculars for our larger feathered friends and much more. The children will even work towards creating a display for the recently erected bird hide.
Through this experience I know that the children will be bowled over by the variety of life that they can discover right here on their doorstep. This early experience of wildlife and becoming inspired by the great outdoors is how we create future ecologists and conservation minded adults.
The information they collate will help future children understand and compare what they can see at South Efford Marsh in subsequent seasons and years. The information and progress of the project will be recorded on a blog page: www.ourbogblog.blogspot.co.uk
It’s hoped that other local nature enthusiasts and visitors might also feed information through on any sightings so please do get in touch if you see anything that you think would be good to report! You can do this at email@example.com
The children will be running an Open Day on Thursday June 5th to help inspire their school friends and others in the community to connect, engage and protect their local wildlife hotspots. Please keep an eye out for posters around the village nearer the time and come and learn from the Aveton Gifford’s mini wildlife rangers!
Our AGM will be held in the Fisherman’s Rest, Aveton Gifford, at 7.00pm on Thursday 22nd May. The AGM will be followed by a talk from Maya Plass (local author of the ‘RSPB Handbook of the Seashore’) about her exploration of South Efford marsh with some of the lucky children of Aveton Gifford Primary School. After the talk, a light buffet will be available, FOC.
We would like to acquire some new committee members at the AGM. Anybody interested can contact the ACA via this website (see ABOUT ACA and CONTACT US tabs) or by phoning 01548 810373 prior to the meeting.
The AGM of the ACA will be held at 7.00pm on Thursday 22nd May 2014 in the Fisherman’s Rest, Aveton Gifford. The AGM will be followed by a talk by Maya Plass of ‘Learn to Sea’ and author of the ‘RSPB Handbook of the Seashore’ describing the exploration of South Efford marsh by the children of Aveton Gifford Primary School. The evening will be capped off with a light buffet for which there will be no charge.
We shall be meeting as below in Stiddicombe Wood. I suggest that people meet either at the Aveton Gifford (Timbers) car park at 1400, cross over the bridge and take the footpath through South Efford and across Stiddecombe Creek OR meet at 1430 in the Evans Estate car park and walk up river from Bantham. The bluebells and wild garlic flowers should be spectacular!
Wednesday 7th May 1500 – meet at John Crawford’s memorial bench near the downstream edge of Stiddicombe Wood for a picnic tea when we hope to also enjoy the floral beauty of this idyllic spot – bring your own picnic! N.B. You can find guides about the wood and its ecology under the ECOLOGY/STIDDICOMBE WOOD tabs and the AONB team have done a brilliant job in putting together a guide for the Avon Estuary Walk which includes Stiddicombe Wood .
The culmination of Maya Plass’s exploration of South Efford marsh with children from Aveton Gifford primary school took place on Thursday 5th June following a series of workshops during early summer. Here, Maya revises some of the key learning points with the children at an open afternoon for members of the Aune Conservation Association (who sponsored the workshops) and parents.
I am writing to explain the ACA’s (and Bigbury Parish Council’s) attitude to the feeding of swans on the Avon Estuary which has featured in the local news recently. Anybody who is not familiar with the details might find our attitude difficult to understand. We are not talking about a few crumbs thrown into a village pond by excited children! Rather, this is an ‘industrial-scale’, daily routine of artificial feeding with an alien diet by one man with an obsession. Bigbury Parish Council – in conjunction with the ACA – has responded to police and parishioner requests to post an advisory notice about wildfowl feeding on the Tidal Road (see this link – DON’T FEED THE WATERFOWL) because of the perceived hazard to humans posed by the swans and by the nuisance caused to road and river users by one man. We recognise that the feeding is not illegal but hope, probably forlornly, that this notice will help to stop it and the associated anti-social behaviour. There are also powerful biological arguments for stopping the feeding.
Our first concern is the preservation of free access to the estuary and the Tidal Road for the public. The estuary, of course, is an asset of huge recreational importance. We should all be concerned whenever that recreational experience is spoiled. The local police became involved because of the very widely reported nuisance behaviour of ‘Swan Man’ – who is spoiling the estuary experience for many users of the water and Tidal Road with his off-putting, personal behaviour whenever he feels that his ‘charges’ may be at risk. The police have asked that anybody who feels threatened in any way (and it may be very early in the morning or very late at night, depending on the tides) should report details of the incident on their 101 non-emergency number. The Duchy of Cornwall has asked us to make it very clear that ‘Swan Man’ is not acting as their agent, in any capacity, despite what he may claim.
Our biological concerns are explained in outline on the poster (local ornithologists and wildfowl experts were consulted on the wording of the sign and we are confident that the statements are an accurate representation of the facts). We have been told by experts that swans are attracted to our estuary from other local habitats by this artificial feeding programme, the regularity and scale of which causes a large congregation of swans at one point – usually at the Bigbury end of the Tidal Road. In addition, large–scale swan feeding creates an ecological imbalance in the estuary which probably goes way beyond the nutritional impact of an alien diet on the swans, themselves, and may affect other species in a complex interaction. One example may help to make the point: an adult mute swan can consume 3-4 kg of submerged aquatic vegetation per day (the normal diet) – that is almost 5 tonnes of vegetation per month for the average number (around 40) of swans that are resident in the estuary throughout the year, never mind what the extra visitors consume. Sixty tonnes of food per year equates to an awful lot of faecal waste excreted into the estuary! We need the resident swans to be feeding throughout the estuary on a natural diet, not just in one place on ‘organic’ grain. These days, swans are rarely seen near Bantham, we are told.
A further biological point involves changes in swan behaviour. Swans display a natural, aggressive, territorial behaviour when threatened. Such behaviour is well documented and may become a hazard to humans. Swans regularly fed by humans will start to associate people with food. Therefore, these swans may approach people more closely than otherwise and might become more aggressive if no food is provided.
Weather permitting, we shall be picking up and recording any rubbish found on Cockleridge as part of the Beachwatch Big Weekend, in collaboration with the Marine Conservation Society on Sunday 21st Sept 11.00am – noon (LW~11.00am)
Everybody is invited to come along and help. Wear gloves, boots and suitable clothing, please.
As a condition of participation, all volunteers are expected to adhere strictly to commonsense Safety Guidelines at all times and to follow the advice of the Organiser on the day as conditions may vary. The guidelines can be scrutinised by clicking here – ACA BEACH CLEANS3
On Friday September 12th 2014 at 11.00am , we shall taking a leisurely walk from the Shipley Bridge car park to the Avon Dam for a picnic. All are welcome to join us but this will be a weather-dependent event! Please bring your own lunch and appropriate clothing.
Police received a report of the theft of a Tohatsu outboard motor Serial no.21284, grey in colour with a missing cover release lever.
This occurred overnight of Saturday the 13th and Sunday the 14th September 2014 on the low tide at Hope Cove beach along with three fuel tanks containing fuel.
Owners of Marine and River craft are asked to be aware and check them on a regular basis.
Residents living near the water are asked to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity you may see promptly to the police
Anyone able to offer information regarding the theft or whereabouts of the motor is asked to please call the Devon and Cornwall Police 101 no: quoting crime ref 106455/14.
As part of the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Great British Beach Clean weekend, the Aune Conservation Association conducted one of its quarterly cleans of Cockleridge, on the Avon estuary at Bigbury-on-Sea, on Sunday 21st September. Picking up the rubbish is the relatively easy part of the task as, subsequently, everything has to be classified and counted (see photograph) for the MCS’s annual survey which compares the totals of rubbish found on different beaches around the UK, year on year, and uses the results to lobby for better control of the sources.
This year’s count suggested that the decline in rubbish found in recent years on Cockleridge was only temporary, with the usual main culprits being pieces of plastic, foam, netting and bottle caps. Unfortunately, cotton bud sticks – those reliable markers of what is flushed down the lavatory – were also represented in good number!
Please find the latest newsletter from the Avon Valley Project via this link -Avon Valley Project Summer Autumn newsletter 2014,
highlighting the valuable work that has been carried out over the past
If you have any questions or queries, or would like to arrange a site
visit, please do get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org/07807 215270).
Also, if you know of any other landowners/managers who may be interested
in the project, feel free to pass on the newsletter or forward my
details to them.
Assistant Landscape Ecologist
A support document which provides information for the consultation on the draft update to the river basin management plan for the South West River Basin District is available by clicking on this link - South Devon
Since it was founded, the Aune Conservation Association has played an active role in improving the Devon Avon through collaboration with other organisations in a variety of initiatives: the Avon Estuary Siltation Research programme, the Catchment Sensitive Farming Initiative, the Devon Avon Group, the South Hams Rivers Improvement Project (SHRImP) and the new, embryonic Catchment Based Approach to River Basin Management (CaBa). Details of much of this work may be found on this website.
In South Devon, CaBa is being coordinated by the West Country Rivers Trust and the South Devon AONB Unit with the objective of meeting the standards required by the Water Framework Directive for all the water bodies in South Devon. The ACA will be maintaining the same focus on the Devon Avon that has resulted in many improvements throughout the river, particularly for migratory fish species such as salmon, trout and eel as a result of the SHRImP project. Unfortunately SHRImP will terminate in March 2015 and we need to carry its momentum and enthusiasm into the CaBa although the new initiative will have a broader remit.
If you have any views about how the River basin Management Plan might be improved, please use this consultation as an opportunity to respond. A response form is available here – RBMP Response form-1
Please see the ‘Estuarine and coastal waters’ document attached. This document has been prepared specially for more estuarine and coastal interest stakeholders to engage with the River Basin Management Plan update for the South West River Basin District. The consultation is active until the 10th April but this is probably not something to be left until then and you are asked to share this within your organisation, group or club for a considered response. Click here for the link – Estuarine_and_coastal_waters
The ACA committee will be responding in due course.
Weather permitting, we shall be cleaning up along the Tidal Road on New Year’s Day from 1130 onwards; an excellent opportunity to cleanse the mind and spirit, if not the body! Please pay attention to the safety guidelines at http://auneconservation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ACA-BEACH-CLEANS3.pdf
No doubt some of us will gravitate towards the Fisherman’s Rest afterwards.
NB High water will be around 2.30pm so keep an eye on the rising tide to avoid strandings!
Wishing you a happy New Year .
ACA members, friends and a few local residents spent a rewarding and convivial hour cleaning up the rubbish along the Tidal Road on New Year’s Day. Although much of the ‘find’ consisted of the usual tide-carried rubbish of fish netting and assorted pieces of paper and plastic that are commonly found in our beach cleans, one is left wondering about the mentality of those who think they have a right to dump their unwanted Christmas decorations and car wheels (not just the tyres!) in this lovely part of the South Hams? Our thanks go to the SHDC refuse crews who will eventually dispose of what was collected.
Recently, there was another incident involving Richard Crafer aka ‘Swan Man’ and his threats to river and Tidal Road users on the Avon estuary. This incident apparently involved Mr Crafer kicking a lady’s dog and threatening her with a rock. There have been numerous similar incidents in the past but the level of threatened violence seems to be escalating. Despite warnings from the police, ’Swan Man’s’ behaviour continues unchanged.
Bigbury Parish Council, the Aune Conservation Association, and the new owners of the Bantham Estate share a common view about this nuisance. The Duchy of Cornwall has asked us to make it very clear that ‘Swan Man’ is not acting as their agent, in any capacity, despite what he may claim.
Our first concern is the preservation of free access to the estuary and the Tidal Road for the public. The estuary, of course, is an asset of huge recreational importance. We should all be concerned whenever that recreational experience is spoiled. The local police have become involved because of the very widely reported nuisance behaviour of ‘Swan Man’ – who is spoiling the estuary experience for many users of the water and Tidal Road with his off-putting, personal behaviour whenever he feels that his ‘charges’ may be at risk.
REPORTING PROTOCOL: The police have asked that anybody who feels threatened in any way (and it may be very early in the morning or very late at night, depending on the tides) should immediately report details of the incident on their 101 non-emergency number to log the incident into their records. Please also call local police officers:-
Jo-Pengelly 07921061657 or Dave Gibson 07525617842. Then and most importantly they should call the Anti-Social Behaviour Officer:- John Ward tel. 01803 861252 or email@example.com because he is anxious to build a case to try and rid the estuary of this nuisance.
This report by Scott West, the SHRImP project manager from The Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT) describes a semi-quantitative fry index electrofishing survey throughout the Rivers Avon, Yealm & Erme in July and August 2014. This was the second year of fish monitoring of this type and goes someway to establishing a longer term data set for the South Hams Rivers.
The surveys were targeted to complement the Environment Agency (EA) electric fishing monitoring undertaken in 2014, although both data sets use different methodologies with the primary difference being the use of fully quantitative depletion methods used by the EA and a semi-quantitative fry index method used by WRT (to be detailed in Field sampling and data analysis methods section). A total of two sites on the Avon, two sites on the Erme and 16 sites on the Yealm were surveyed by the Environment Agency in the 2014 season (see appendix D).
The full text of the report may be found in the RESEARCH REPORTS section of the RESEARCH page.
Tha ACA will be leading a clean up of the Tidal Road between Aveton Gifford and Bigbury on Sunday 10th May 2015 1500-1600. Low water will be around 1630. This operation will be a contribution towards the Marine Conservation Society’s Big Beach Clean. It’s always a fun social occasion and you never know what interesting and potentially useful junk you might find!
We shall be working from the Timbers and Milburn Orchard car parks at both ends of the road, so please gather there. Wear suitable clothing and bring gloves and any available collecting bags, please.
All volunteers must adhere to the safety guidelines described in the following link – http://auneconservation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ACA-BEACH-CLEANS3.pdf
In mid-April, the first ever water release was made from the Avon Dam in the hope that the extra water would facilitate the natural movement of salmon smoult which takes place at this time of year. The release, the first in the 60-odd years since the dam was built, was made after a prolonged dry spell of weather when the river was at the lower end of its normal depth range. This trial release was made after prolonged negotiations between the Environment Agency, South West Water and the Avon Fishing Association, facilitated through meetings of the Devon Avon Group just as the South Hams Rivers Improvement Project comes to an end. However, it is hoped that the ‘trial’ will be the forerunner of further releases to be made for ecological purposes.
Details of the agreement are available here – http://auneconservation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Fisheries-Bank_-Reservoir-water-release_2015.docx
”There will be an Outdoor Swimming Society swim (the Bantham ‘Swoosh’) from Aveton Gifford to Bantham at 0930 on 5th July 2015.
Full Bantham Swoosh information is available at: http://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/events/?id=112 and you can ask questions at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1555745498030696/
Annual General Meeting, 2015
Fisherman’s Rest, Aveton Gifford, Thursday 28th May, 7.00pm
- Minutes of AGM, 2014
- Matters arising
- Chairman’s Report
- Accounts for 2014 & Treasurer’s Report
- Retirement and Election of Committee Members
- Open Forum
This year, the AGM will be followed by a talk by Craig Dunton & Lynne Kenderdine about the Avon Valley Project. Devon Wildlife Trust, South Devon Nature Trust and Think Nature have been running a pilot project over the past four years seeking to protect and increase wildlife and semi-natural habitats.
A light buffet will be available after the meeting at no charge.
As part of the Great British Beach Clean, we are organising a clean up of rubbish on Cockleridge on Sunday 20th September between 3pm & 4pm (low water will be around 4.30pm) – weather permitting You can sign up via this link - http://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/user/register
Please see our safety guidelines and further details here – http://auneconservation.org.uk/?page_id=791
If in doubt call Stuart Watts on 01548 810373.
We shall be recording details of what we find to complement our previous surveys and to add to the national database maintained by the Marine Conservation Society. Some interesting information about last year’s (2014) MCS results is available here – http://www.mcsuk.org/what_we_do.php/Clean+seas+and+beaches/Reports+and+downloads/Beachwatch+results+2014
This is notice of a formal request – in line with DEFRA policy and guidelines (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/bathing-waters) – to designate the Devon Avon estuary (Avon GB 510804606000 -Transitional Water) as a site requiring microbiological testing during the period May to September under the Bathing Waters Directive.
The estuary is increasingly used for recreational purposes, including swimming and boating by enthusiasts, schools, tourists, etc., (see http://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/events/?id=112 & http://www.singingpaddles.co.uk/Specialist%20Paddling%20Courses%20in%20South%20Devon.htm) yet is subject to 10 permitted sewage by-passes per year from the Aveton Gifford sewage works and is exposed to unmonitored effluent from many other sources - including sewerage system failures in the village of Aveton Gifford. Between Loddiswell and Bantham there are many known discharge points for domestic sewage systems into the River Avon, licensed but not routinely monitored by the Environment Agency (EA). Other systems are so ancient that they pre-date the need for a license and may not even feature in the EA records. Many of these private systems are subject to highly variable seasonal loading and consequent failure during the main (May-September) tourist season when the local population explodes in number. In addition, this popular, recreational water receives the agricultural run-off from many farms in the lower part of the Devon Avon catchment. The downstream oyster fishery, which is routinely monitored under the Shellfish Waters Directive, has recently been closed due to microbiological contamination.
The water in the upper Avon estuary, near the Timbers car park, is at particular risk of microbiological contamination but the nearest microbiological testing points for bathing waters are at Bantham and Bigbury, at the estuary mouth. No ‘Beach Live’ alerting system to warn the public of microbiological hazards is operational despite requests to South West Water to implement such a system, for example, by the use of local community websites. Furthermore, there is no easily accessible warning about the potential health risks arising from exposure to the river water in the area.
Bathers and watercraft users cannot be protected from microbiological hazards in the upper Avon estuary under the Bathing Waters Directive. The Environment Agency does not monitor recreational waters for microbes unless they are designated as Bathing Waters. The regular bather numbers in the upper Avon estuary are too low to justify designation under the Bathing Waters Directive, we have been told. Users of watercraft of various types are excluded from the count.
An alternative approach could be to post warning signs about possible pollution risks so that recreational river users can be made aware of the possible microbiological hazard. To date, Aveton Gifford Parish Council has resisted such a move and South West Water has not cooperated in providing information to the public about the occurrence and timing of the 10 permitted combined sewer overflows (CSO) from the sewage works at Aveton Gifford.
South West Water is taking action to reduce domestic sewer overflows onto local roads and streams running into the upper Avon estuary by separating foul water from rain water (see link below) but the CSO will continue for the foreseeable future. So BEWARE!
Devon and Severn Inshore Fishing Conservation Authority is conducting a review of netting byelaws in our river estuaries. If you follow the links provided here - newsletter netting review – , you can complete a survey to provide your views about netting in the Devon Avon estuary.
I have responded on behalf of the ACA, writing, in summary, ‘Current, indiscriminate netting within the Devon Avon’s estuary makes a mockery of any attempts at balanced conservation of our river’s wildlife’.
As part of the Marine Conservation Society’s ‘Great British Beach Clean’ which involved numerous beach cleaning efforts around the country between 18th and 21st September, the Aune Conservation Association arranged one of its quarterly rubbish clean ups on Cockleridge, Bigbury-0n-Sea, on Sunday 20th September. This year, the rubbish haul was somewhat smaller than on previous occasions and it would be tempting to delude ourselves into thinking this could be a direct result of our earlier efforts on Cockleridge. Sadly, we know that the next tide will probably bring in a richer harvest from the masses of junk floating around in our oceans or discharged through our sewerage systems and that we need to remain vigilant to help protect and conserve our beautiful local environment.
Nicholas Johnston, the new owner of the Bantham Estate, has expressed his support for the long-maintained view of the ACA that the 10 permitted releases of raw sewage into the Avon from the Aveton Gifford sewage treatment works after heavy rainfall should be stopped. At present, the releases are made without any warning to the public despite the increased recreational use of the river. For the full story, see this link -
The Plymouth University/ Westcountry Rivers Trust report on gravel augmentation formed part of the South Hams Rivers Improvement Project to restore the Avon to a state akin to that which existed before the construction of the Avon Dam. The report may be found on the Research/ Research reports page.
In response to the widespread scepticism and multitude of rumours in circulation about different aspects of the Bantham Estate’s activities, the ACA committee met with the Estate’s owner and Estate Manager on 26th January 2016 for a full and frank discussion of matters related to the river, the estuary and associated ecology. In any changing situation there will always be doubters but the committee members were persuaded that the long-term welfare of the estuary and its environment are the Estate’s genuine, primary interests. The ACA shares those interests although our methods for satisfying them may be different.
Our members can rest assured that effective lines of communication exist between the ACA and the Estate for discussion of anything relevant to the ACA’s charitable objectives and we shall not hesitate to raise any legitimate and well-substantiated concerns with the management or, indeed, to collaborate where appropriate.
The notes from the most recent meeting of the Devon Avon (Water Quality) Group or DAG have been added to the appropriate page in the ECOLOGY section. Amongst other things, it will be seen that SWW’s programme of water releases from the Avon dam, for fisheries purposes, will be continuing during 2016 along with some electro-fishing and gravel augmentation work (also funded by SWW) as an experiment to promote fish spawning in the upper reaches of the river.