Our clean up of the Tidal Road on 16th May in collaboration with SAS went ahead despite the unpredictable weather.  Many thanks to the 20 plus people who turned out and were able to enjoy the first opportunity for over a year to engage with people outside their COVID bubbles.

Marine Crime

Between 15th April 2021 and 21st April 2021 at least two Outboard engines were stolen from the racks behind the Boat House at Salcombe Boat House, Salcombe Yacht Club Salcombe.  Please ensure that all engines are locked, marked and you have the seriel numbers, if possible please take your valuables home.
Anything suspicious seen please report via 101,  Crimestoppers any information to OIC PC 10901 Jo Pengilly work mobile 07921061657 non emergency only.    CR/031991/21Email tracking gif

TIDAL ROAD CLEAN UP – 3.00-4.00pm on 16th MAY 2021

At last we’re able to get outside in a socially distanced way to resume life from where it was suspended over a year ago!
We plan to celebrate by joining a Surfers Against Sewage ‘Million Mile Clean’ initiative to clean up around the Tidal Road.
I’ve signed up for Sunday 16th May from 3-4pm as both the tide and the COVID risk should be very low.
Please join us!
Gather in either the Timbers or Milburn Orchard car parks at either end of the Tidal Road
It will be safest from the COVID standpoint if you can bring your own sacks for rubbish, wear gloves and maintain a sensible distance from others/ wear a mask if you prefer.
Beyond that our usual safety rules still apply as below.
Thanks for your help – I look forward to seeing you  on the day.
Stuart Watts – 01548 810373


At an extraordinary meeting of the Avon Estuary Forum on 16th Feb 2021, the issue of the explosion in the popularity of walking along the estuary bed, of outdoor swimming and in the use of SUPs, canoes and kayaks was addressed.

It was agreed:-
1. the buoys and associated signs marking the water ski zone would be renewed with the collaboration of the ski club and the Salcombe Harbourmaster
2. Better communications with the public via social media and with local organisations running courses or hiring equipment would be employed to improve safety and the important matter of biosecurity.

As part of this safety campaign, advisory Codes of Conduct or Tips for Visitors for all three types of activity will be published on the Aune Conservation Association website, accessible via the following QR Code:-


The Avon (Aune) Estuary is a priceless environmental asset. It is a County Wildlife Site and Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) with its shallow waters, extensive mudflats, and saltmarshes. All of these features are of exceptional ecological value to important populations of fish, invertebrates, migratory birds and waterfowl.

It is vital these habitats remain undisturbed; educating all estuary users is a first step in managing these areas for the benefit of all. Historically, the Avon Estuary has always been highly valued as a place for quiet contemplation and reflection on natural beauty. All users of the estuary are asked to respect these values: in these difficult COVID times, they are more priceless than ever.


The Avon (Aune) Estuary is a priceless environmental asset. It is a County Wildlife Site and Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) with its shallow waters, extensive mudflats, and saltmarshes.  All of these features are of exceptional ecological value to important populations of fish, invertebrates, migratory birds and waterfowl.

It is vital these habitats remain undisturbed; educating all estuary users is a first step in managing these areas for the benefit of all.  Historically, the Avon Estuary has always been highly valued as a place for quiet contemplation and reflection on natural beauty.   We would ask all users of the estuary to respect these values: in these difficult times, they are more priceless than ever.

Thanks to COVID-19 and the imposition of Lockdowns restricting some forms of exercise, there has been an explosion in the popularity both of outdoor swimming and in the use of SUPs, canoes and kayaks.    Whilst it is good to see the estuary being enjoyed and appreciated by more of the public,  the unusual intensity of the recreational traffic on the water has highlighted the need for Codes of Conduct because the waters are becoming increasingly crowded with users of varying degrees of experience – some are complete novices and may pose a nuisance or even a danger to themselves, others and the environment.    Biosecurity is an ever present concern with the threat of the import of invasive species from other waterways on contaminated craft or wetsuits.    Suitable Codes are suggested on the following pages (see Navigation Bar on homepage: >CODES OF CONDUCT>WALKERS or >OUTDOOR SWIMMING or >BOATERS (SUPs, CANOES & KAYAKS) or >BIOSECURITY


Recreational risks from river & estuary pollution of the Devon Avon (Aune)

The ACA has long been concerned about the potential hazards of recreational use of the Avon Estuary, despite it being swept by tides twice per day (>ECOLOGY>WATER QUALITY).   The Sewage Treatment Works at Aveton Gifford and other sources of pollution, as described in the Rivers Trust website (see link below) are unpredictable sources of water pollution.  Using rivers for swimming, paddling, fishing and playing is fantastically rewarding and good for our health, but like all outdoor sports, carries an element of risk. There is no public health monitoring of river water quality in the UK, so this map (see link below) will help river users weigh up the risk before taking to the water. It shows some of the sources of pathogens (bacteria or viruses) in rivers which can cause illnesses. The Rivers Trust is calling on all river users to join us in tackling these issues.

Use the Search box to find your location or zoom on the map to see the locations of discharges from the sewerage network which are entering rivers. Avoid entering the water immediately downstream of these discharges, especially after it has been raining. Click the Legend and different symbol information buttons or click symbols on the map to popup information about the types of risks. Use the Layer List button to see other layers, including river flow direction so you can check whether the discharges are upstream of your location.



Many factors are not possible to show on a map. These include timings and locations of agricultural pollutions, discharges from badly connected household appliances and hidden septic tanks which are not in our datasets. This is why we can never be 100% sure that a location is safe for swimming or recreational access.

Stolen Rib Boat – Tidal Road

Police are appealing for witnesses and anyone with information in connection with a report of theft of a boat from the area of Tidal Road, Aveton Giffon, Kingsbridge.

This took place sometime between Sunday 14 and Monday 15 June 2020.

A Honway T40 4 meter rib boat was stolen, along with a 30HP outboard engine, 2 x paddles and anchor.

If you have any information or have any CCTV in the area please phone 101 or email 101@dc.police.uk quoting crime CR/048151/20.

Thank you.



Life in the Devon Avon continues much as normal although recreational activity in the estuary has been severely curtailed during ‘Lockdown’.   Unfortunately, our social gathering in the form of the Tidal Road clean-up planned for the end of April was another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic and advice on social distancing, etc.  Our Spring AGM will probably suffer the same fate.


As for normality, this is the time of year when as salmon begin to mature, they adapt for life in salt water in an intermediary stage known as smolts.  This process marks the beginning of their first migration from their home river to the ocean.   Anadromous fish, like salmon, that move from fresh to salt water and back again over the course of their lives, must be able to change their physiology – the way their bodies work.  In a process called smoltification, salmon adapt to the changes salt water causes to their bodies.  In fresh water, the salmon’s body is saltier than the water in which it swims. To work properly, the body needs salt so it tries to keep the salt in.  Some escapes, but the salmon gets enough from the food it eats to make up for the loss.  In the ocean, the water is saltier than the salmon’s body needs to be, so it must try to keep the salt out and the water in.  When salmon swim in the ocean, the salt water draws water out of the fish’s cells.  Salmon adapt by drinking seawater to replace the water their cells lose.  They excrete the excess salt through their gills and urine. As the smolts prepare for ocean life, their appearance also changes, from the dark colours of the fry to the silvery colour of adult salmon. This helps them hide in the light conditions of the surface waters of the open ocean, where there is no dark shade from overhanging trees.  While approximately 30 fry from a redd of 2000 to 2500 eggs grow into smolts, less than four survive to become adults.


We are now approximately midway through the smolt migration season, locally, but a big problem in the Devon Avon (Aune) is the potential shortage of water to enable these migrations to occur.  The Aune is a spate river meaning that it is rain-fed, short and fast flowing so the run-off time is quicker; water levels rise and fall relatively quickly, especially upstream.  The water level recorded at the gauging station near Didworthy usually ranges between 0-1.40m; early on 3rd May it was 0.37m.  In contrast, downstream at Loddiswell (usual range from 0.25m -1.80m); the level was 0.26m and falling.  The Avon dam exacerbates the problem of seasonal water shortages although, as part of the original agreement when the dam was built in the 1950s, an ecological ‘bank’ or ‘freshet’ of water should be released in times of drought.    Some years ago, we managed to negotiate with the Environment Agency (EA) and Southwest Water (SWW) to make sure these water releases actually happened – for the first time since the dam was built.   Unfortunately, owing to retirements and headcount reductions in both organisations, the agreement details seemed to become ‘forgotten’ despite my best attempts to familiarise replacement staff with the arrangements.  Happily, following yet more staff reassignments and the appointment of a new, better informed, EA fisheries officer to cover our region, I have just been notified that  because April was a very dry month – although it is raining as I write – the overspill from the dam has been very small of late.    Therefore, a ‘freshet’ of water will be arranged with SWW.  Hopefully, more smolts will make their way to the sea as a result and will eventually come back to our river as adult fish.


Stuart Watts – May 2020

Tidal Road clean-up, April 26th 2020 – POSTPONEMENT

Owing to the restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, our Tidal Road clean-up on Sunday April 26th has been postponed until such time as we can all emerge from home without risk.

Meanwhile, STAY SAFE!

A report from the Avon Estuary Forum of 3rd March 2020

The Avon Estuary Forum (AEF) is a biannual meeting of all those agencies and individuals with a relevant interest although discussions often include upstream matters that might affect the estuary.   The Forum is usually held in Thurlestone Parish Hall and anybody is welcome to attend.   If you’d like to be added to the mailing lists for alerts, please contact nigel.mortimer@southdevonaonb.org.uk.


The meeting on 3rd March was my second as Chairman and I have decided to provide occasional reports  to widen the information base beyond the distribution of the formal notes that are provided prior to our next meeting (on 13th October in this case).


Ryan Hooper (Estate Manager & Bantham Harbourmaster) announced that the Bantham Estate would continue the operation of the Avon Patrol in 2020, financed as previously by South Hams DC and the Bantham Estate, with voluntary contributions from the Aune Conservation Association (ACA), the Avon Valley Ski Club (AVSC) and the Duchy of Cornwall.   Last summer, the revamped patrol made a valuable contribution to the safety and security of many estuary users.


There was further discussion, without resolution, about possible improvements to the Bantham/Bigbury ferry operation and how these might tie in with changes to the England Coast Path proposals from Natural England, to the advantage of walkers and regional tourism.  Funding is one unsettled issue.


Public participation in several consultations was invited.  The first involves the South Devon Catchment Partnership and ‘Challenges and Choices’ (see – http://south-devon.org/challenges-and-choices/).  That consultation explains why water is such a vital resource, describes the challenges that threaten the water environment, explores how we can work together to manage our waters, looks at who should pay for the actions needed and, importantly, invites input on all these issues.  In that context, there was considerable discussion about river water quality and how standards can be maintained in the face of severe Environment Agency staff cuts. The second consultation, open until 6th April, (see – https://consult.defra.gov.uk/mmo/draft-south-west-inshore-and-offshore-marine-plans/) is about marine planning in the SW, including the Avon Estuary (now designated as a Marine Conservation Zone).  We also heard about proposed new ‘bag limits’ that might be imposed by the Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority (IFCA) on the hand collection of foreshore species such as bait worms, scallops, cockles, mussels and limpets but the deadline for that consultation has now passed!


As a direct outcome of the meeting, I have contacted Devon & Severn IFCA about local reports of diseased crabs and lobsters by AVSC members.    It seems likely, from a brief Internet search and the description provided at our meeting, that these crustaceans might be the victims of ‘black spot’ disease – a bacterial infection (see picture obtained from the internet) .

Have any other ‘potters’ seen evidence of this disease locally?   Please let us know.


The Outdoor Swimming Association has told me that there will be a new event this year – the Bantham ‘Boomerang’ on Friday 3rd July, whereby swimmers will enter the water at Bantham beach at around 1630 and swim upstream with the tide.  All swimmers will turn with the tide at 18.00 (wherever they may be!) and return to Bantham – the last swimmers are expected to be out of the water by 20.00.  The Bantham ‘Swoosh’ will take place on Saturday 4th July, with swimmers entering the water at Aveton Gifford from 06.00 and exiting at Bantham by 09.15.  Please beware of swimmers and let’s hope nobody will get a dose of ‘black spot’!


A message from the Outdoor swimming Society:-
We wanted to once again notify you of the Swoosh swimming event which will be taking place on Saturday 4 July 2020 with swimmers entering the water at Aveton Gifford from 6am and exiting at Bantham Beach by 9:15am.
We are also introducing a new swim in 2020: the Bantham Boomerang, to be held on Friday 3 July 2020. Swimmers will enter the water from Bantham beach at approximately 16:30 and swim upstream with the tide. All swimmers will turn with the tide at 18:00 (wherever they are in the river) and return to Bantham beach. We expect the last swimmer to be out of the water by 20:00.
We are once again working very closely with Aveton Gifford Parish Council and the Bantham Estate on these events. We will be having another 7 swimmers fundraising again this year for the Aveton Gifford Community Swimming Pool and Pre-school.



Tidal Road ‘beach clean’ Sunday 26th April 2020


Regarding the Aune Conservation Association’s Tidal Road clean up on 26th April, I am planning to leave attendance up to individuals although Surfers Against Sewage have cancelled their related beach clean events on that day.  The situation is changing on a daily basis, of course, but I figure a dose of fresh air and modest exercise, whilst engaging in a community task at a sensible and manageable distance from others, might do more good than harm at the moment.  Obviously, there will be no pub gathering afterwards!

Tidal Road clean up _ Sunday 12th January, 2020 at 1130 a.m.

The Aune Conservation Association will be organising its usual New Year clean up along the Tidal Road on Sunday 12th January, starting at 11.30am.   Low Water will be around 1300h.    Everybody is welcome to join in but please take note of our safety guidelines (see – https://auneconservation.org.uk/?page_id=791)
We usually have one group starting from Timbers car park  at AG to work downstream towards the stakes at Milburn Orchard and another starting from the Milburn Orchard car park, working back to AG.     Subsequently, a congenial meeting of the two teams in the Fisherman’s Rest would be a good way to start the afternoon.
Please mark this date in your diary.’


If you visit  www.thurlestoneparish.co.uk and go to ‘gallery’ there is a short film about the Bantham boats and sailing on the Avon.

A fascinating glimpse of recent history!


At a recent ‘Water Resilience Summit”, organised by the Westcountry Rivers Trust, there was concern expressed about the impact of climate change on the future availability of water for domestic use. Wildly fluctuating temperatures and rainfall patterns mean that water supply may become much more unpredictable and problematic. Water companies can control supplies through management of supply (quantity & quality) and delivery (improving infrastructure, reducing leaks, better treatment methods) but demand is largely in the hands of consumers. Changing demographics and socio-economic trends have meant that the national UK average for an individual’s daily water consumption is 140 litres/day (l/d). Denmark’s equivalent is only 88l/d. The UK target is 50 l/d!

What can you do to help meet this ambitious target to ensure that supplies do not run short? The answer’s are obvious: don’t use the bath or, alternatively, share the bath water with a friend; don’t flush the lavatory every time you use it – if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down; don’t run the tap when brushing your teeth; use a rain water butt to store water for the garden instead of using tap water; generally, be far more water conservation conscious and pass the message on to others.

By the use of relatively small measures, everybody can help to secure a water resilient future for our children and grandchildren.

The Avon Estuary Patrol – 2019

Following an outcry at the Avon Estuary Forum in 2018 and some intensive lobbying by the Aune Conservation Association (ACA),   we managed to reverse the SHDC decision to withdraw the Avon Patrol.    We believe this service is vital to maintain the safety and security of recreational estuary users during the summer months of July, August and September,  especially given the upsurge in popularity of kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, wild swimming, etc.   over the last few years.


Discussions about the nature of an agreement to underpin the patrol have been going on since February 2019 but the long-awaited drafting of a formal contract by SHDC legal services has galvanised thinking and we have now arrived at a situation similar to what existed in the past i.e. a contract to provide the service between SHDC (customer) and the Bantham Estate (provider) with voluntary annual contributions of £500 each from the Avon Valley Waterski Club, the ACA  and the Duchy of Cornwall being made to the Bantham Estate.   SHDC will contribute £2500/year.  The total annual cost will be £4000 and the contract will run for 5 years after which it will be reviewed.


SHDC-licensed Bantham Estate staff and licensed boats are out on the water on a very frequent basis and will report regularly to the Salcombe Harbourmaster about the conduct of the patrol and any necessary  interventions with the public to uphold the byelaws.    Bantham Estate started operating the patrol in July this year, prior to the contractual details being finalised,  as an act of good faith.


Whilst the ACA, like the other groups, is very pleased about this outcome,  the increased contribution represents a very considerable chunk of our reserves over a 5-year period.  Unlike the other contributing groups, the ACA as an environmental conservation charity does not have any regular source of income and the extra £250 is a large sum for us to find on an ongoing basis for the altruistic purpose of conserving this very important recreational and tourism asset for the general public.   Therefore, we shall need to consider how to continue funding this valuable service in the longer term.   Our participation in the  South Hams Lottery  is one new source of extra funds and if you would like to help us to keep the estuary safe and secure, whilst standing a chance of winning some prize money,  you could make a donation via the following link – https://www.seamoorlotto.co.uk/support/aune-conservation-association


Thank you for your support.

ACA update from 2019 AGM

For an update on our activities over the past year (2018-2019), please click on the following link:-

June 2019 Newsletter

General Data Protection Regulations – membership restriction eliminated

Our compliance with GDPR in 2018 meant that our lifetime membership numbers dramatically fell owing to a widespread lack of response from members to positively indicate an interest in continued membership of the ACA.  At our 2019 AGM it was generally agreed that the Association had over-reacted to GDPR.  Therefore our policy will be changed.

Henceforth, any of our original lifetime members will need to send an email to the Chairman to withdraw from membership: go to About ACA tab>Contact Us and enter details of your request


Devon Avon Estuary designated as a Marine Conservation Zone

Defra has  announced (31 May 2019) the designation of the third tranche of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). All 41 new sites and the addition of new features to 12 existing MCZs proposed during last summer’s consultation are now designated.

I am sure you will be pleased to know that the Avon Estuary has been included in the designation in order to protect the features summarised below.   Thank goodness for the Tentacled Lagoon Worm, which you – like me – had probably never encountered!  I can’t help feeling that the entire exercise is a damp squib but time and future planning applications may prove me wrong.

The designation is described and briefly reviewed in the following document:-




The government’s response to the consultation, outlining the evidence received and explaining the decisions taken on each site, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/marine-conservation-zones-third-tranche-of-designations and full details of all sites are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/marine-conservation-zone-designations-in-england.

Bantham ‘Swoosh’ event in the estuary – take note, please, boat owners!

We wanted to once again notify you of the Swoosh swimming event which will be taking place on Saturday 6th July 2019 with swimmers entering the water at Aveton Gifford from 9.20am and exiting at Bantham Beach by 12.05pm.
We are once again working very closely with Aveton Gifford Parish Council and the Bantham Estate on the event. We’ll be having another 6 swimmers fundraising again this year for the Aveton Gifford Community Swimming Pool.
If you’d like any further information about the event please let me know.
Many thanks

Abi Moores (née Edgar)
The Outdoor Swimming Society
Tel. 07859 970709

New Year 2019 – Tidal Road clean up

For various reasons (mostly poor weather) it’s been some time since our last clean up around the Tidal Road but I am currently planning another for Sunday 6th January 2019 at 11.00am to coincide with Low Water.  I hope you will be able to come along and join in.  Please tell your friends or, better still, bring them along.
We usually have one group starting from Timbers car park  at AG to work downstream towards the stakes at Milburn Orchard and another starting from the Milburn Orchard car park, working back to AG.     Subsequently, a congenial meeting of the two teams in the Fisherman’s Rest would be a good way to start the afternoon.
I’ll be issuing further details nearer the time but please mark this date in your diary.


At last evening’s Avon Estuary Forum (AEF) there was a detailed discussion about the state of the Avon Estuary Patrol.   Here is my view of the situation.
Historically, this service has operated on a rather haphazard and informal basis depending upon the Patrol Officer’s availability and the apparent need during busy periods.  This year, the patrol was operated, as previously, by Marsh Dawes – the Bantham Harbourmaster – for the months of July, August and September following the outcry that erupted when SHDC had proposed to disband the service earlier in the year.   However, for the first time,  the ACA and others received an incident report for each of the three operational months and it is obvious that there is a strong requirement both for an advisory  service to deter speeding and other potentially dangerous activities, and – importantly –  to act as a deterrent against widespread abuse of the waterway and its bye-laws if it were to be left unpatrolled.
The fate of the patrol in 2019 is currently uncertain.  However, because of the outcry that arose about abandonment this year, the new Salcombe Harbourmaster is taking a much more active interest in the Avon than previously and he and other stakeholders – including the ACA – will be involved in the discussion about the patrol’s future before a final decision is made by SHDC.   At the AEF last evening, there was general agreement that because of the increased recreational use of the estuary, there is a greater need than ever for a patrol – which should be available on a more extensive and routine basis than previously: the operation should respond to the changing need.
Obviously, such increased patrol activity would carry increased costs and these will form an important part of the debate about the future operation and its funding.  One of the future scenarios may be that current contributors (ACA, Avon Valley Ski Club, Duchy of Cornwall, Bantham Estate) will be asked to pay more to keep the patrol running, a second scenario is that the donor base might be widened (possibly to include parish councils or river users, as two examples); a third is that the Patrol Officer role might be incorporated with other roles around the estuary to create a full-time position – possibly as part of the Bantham Estate.
An extraordinary AEF will be held in February to debate and review progress on the matter.
Other matters raised at the meeting included:-
1) Environment Agency – it is the intention to invite stakeholders to suggest where and when more comprehensive water sampling could be carried out in the estuary.  The background to this was not explained but the ACA would be enthusiastic supporters!
2) IFCA (Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority) –  the public is encouraged to report any unmarked (therefore unlicensed) lobster/ crab pots or suspected illegal fishing (01803 856648 or, out of hours,  07740175479).
3) RYA (Royal Yachting Association) – the public is encouraged to report any poorly marked fishing gear via the website.


With the recent enhanced focus on global warming and climate change, you may be interested to find out more about the role of salt marshes, such as those abundant in the Avon Estuary, and other coastal ecosystems in sequestering carbon.  Check the following link for more information and a brief video:-


Clearly, these important habitats deserve the highest level of protection on a global AND local scale.

An idea of the extent of salt marsh and mud flats in the upper estuary is provided by the DWLT video – click on the link below to view:-




Click on the following link for an updated message about the estuary’s water quality, biosecurity, etc.

Water quality – November 2018e

Avon runs low

The Environment Agency has two gauging stations for monitoring water levels on the Avon, at Didworthy and Loddiswell.  Data from both indicate a severe reduction in water flow during the current very dry spell of weather, especially in the lower reaches.

On Saturday 21st July, the depth at Didworthy was 0.35m (normal range = 0- 1.4m) and at Loddiswell was 0.19m (normal range = 0.25-1.8m).



ACA launches its Sea Moor Lotto page to raise funds for conservation

We have launched our Sea Moor Lotto page to help raise funds in support of our work on the Devon Avon.  Please help by buying a ticket or two.  Click on the link below for more details:-

we-have-launched-on-seamoor-lotto – digital


Since it’s foundation, the ACA – an environmental conservation charity focussed on the South Hams’ Avon – has depended exclusively upon limited funds generated by our lifetime membership subscription (only £20 for a family!), occasional charitable donations and money raised through social events. However, our limited income has always somewhat restricted our activities.  So, we applied and have been accepted to be a beneficiary of the new SHDC-sponsored Sea Moor Lotto, which aims to help a variety of local causes.    Now, we need the support of at least 50 donors to derive the maximum benefit from the lottery.  Please help by going to our lotto webpage by typing the following address into your internet search engine: https://www.seamoorlotto.co.uk/support/aune-conservation-association and making a donation.  Look out for the logo – thank you!

Our existing funds are spent upon such activities as: arranging educational workshops for local schools e.g. on South Efford Marsh; organising expert talks on topics of interest (e.g. micro-plastic pollution, water mills of the Avon); supporting the Avon Patrol to prevent unlawful water-based activities such as speeding boats and associated environmental damage in the estuary; participating in the South Devon Catchment Partnership; and organising the Devon Avon Group to improve both the quality and quantity of river water from moor to sea.  However, we’d like to do more with these initiatives and others to help the public enjoy the unspoilt and idyllic environment of our wonderful river and estuary.   For example, with adequate funding, we could arrange for regular independent testing of river water quality (several sewage treatment works discharge into the Avon and phosphate levels below Loddiswell are too high), do more to help the Avon Patrol and, maybe, even improve the Avon Estuary ferry from Cockleridge (Bigbury) to Bantham harbour, which forms an important but under-used link in the SW Coastal Path.

Please help us to do more by buying a ticket or two!



Readers may be interested in an example giving some insight into our behind-the-scenes activities – all carried out by unpaid volunteers.  On the topic of the Avon Patrol, I heard just before the Avon Estuary Forum in May that this vital service was to be withdrawn, as a cost-saving measure, on the recommendation of the former Salcombe Harbourmaster.   None of those organisations that had contributed to the patrol for many years had been informed, including the ACA; one had even been invoiced for their 2018 contribution!  After a prolonged series of email enquiries and complaints to Parish, District and County Councillors, as well as the Manager of Commercial Services at SHDC, I was informed eventually that some way would be found to resurrect the patrol for July, August and September this year but that the future of the service beyond 2018 was uncertain.   However, a new Salcombe Harbourmaster has been appointed since this story broke and, as of today, I have been told by him that the usual patrol service will be resurrected from 1st July and I sense that we can expect a more enlightened and collaborative approach towards our estuary from SHDC in the future.


The Devon Avon is becoming increasingly popular for outdoor or ‘wild’ swimming but many swimmers seem oblivious to the dangers posed by their poor visibility to power boat owners, in particular.  If you are wearing a dark wet suit, you will be almost invisible to boat users down at water level, especially if the water is choppy.  Please consider your personal safety when swimming in open water that is used for other recreational activities.   Although organised events such as the Bantham ‘Swoosh’ are well organised and supervised from a safety viewpoint, wild swimming websites generally offer extensive personal safety advice (see, for example, http://www.wildswimming.co.uk/health-safety/ ) with surprisingly little mention made of the need to make yourself visible by wearing brightly coloured headgear, for example.

Swimmers personal safety is their own responsibility.

Consultation about designating the Devon Avon Estuary as a new Marine Conservation Zone

DEFRA is consulting until 20th July 2018 about designating new Marine Conservation Zones, seeking any fresh information that might influence the decision.  The summary sheet for the Avon Estuary proposal is available here – Devon Avon Estuary Factsheet

At present, the proposal does not include South Efford Marsh or the full extension of the Bass Nursery Zone out to Burgh Island.

The ACA, unsurprisingly, fully supports such a designation and our suggested modifications as a means of protecting the marine life of the estuary from unwarranted change, development or exploitation.

Our formal response is available for inspection here :- MCZ – Devon Avon Estuary

DEFRA reply – All responses will be considered before Ministers make their final decisions on which sites will be designated in the third tranche. We aim to designated this tranche within 12 months. Final decisions on which sites will be designated will take into account any relevant information submitted as part of this consultation. We will publish details of evidence received and a full Government response to these together with the final decisions on each site within 12 months. This will be placed on the consultations section of the Government web site.

An additional rationale for designating the estuary as an MCZ was sent to Natural England in early November 2018, as follows:-
Further to my original submission about designating the Avon Estuary in South Devon as a Marine Conservation Zone or MCZ  (response I.D. = ANON- PGP8-UYCU-5), I hope it is not too late in the decision-making process to draw your attention to a feature of the estuary which I overlooked and which also was not mentioned explicitly in DEFRA’s Factsheet, although others may have mentioned it in their submissions.
This feature concerns the role of the inter-tidal salt marshes and mudflats of the estuary as important stores of ‘blue carbon’.  As I’m sure your scientists at NE will readily acknowledge, these habitats are under constant threat from sea level rise, on the one hand, and development ’squeeze’, on the other.   It becomes particularly important to conserve such carbon ’sinks’ in the face of climate change, irrespective of what individual species may dwell there. The following, italicised, passage succinctly presents  the argument for conservation; it is taken from  the website of BlueCarbonPortal.org.
‘Blue carbon’ is the carbon stored and sequestered in coastal ecosystems such as mangrove forests, seagrass meadows or inter-tidal salt marshes. These valuable ecosystems hold vast carbon reservoirs; they sequester atmospheric CO2 through primary production, and then deposit it in their sediments. In fact, most blue carbon is found in the soils or sediments beneath the vegetation.

The rates of carbon sequestration and storage are comparable to (and often higher than) the sequestration rates in carbon-rich terrestrial ecosystems such as tropical rainforests or peatlands. Unlike most terrestrial systems, which reach soil carbon equilibrium within decades, deposition of carbon dioxide in coastal ecosystem sediment can continue over millennia. However, when these coastal ecosystems are degraded or destroyed they can become carbon dioxide sources due to the oxidization of biomass and organic soil.

Because coastal ecosystems do contain substantial amounts of carbon, and because this carbon is in danger of being released, they are important in mitigating climate change. Unfortunately, however, the rate of loss of mangroves, seagrasses and saltmarshes (driven mostly by human activities) is estimated to be among the highest of any ecosystem on the planet, prompting international interest in managing them more effectively for their carbon benefits.

Although the Avon Estuary’s contribution to carbon sequestration may be small on a planetary scale, that contribution strengthens the argument for its designation as a MCZ and for the inclusion of South Efford Marsh.


ACA accepted into SeaMoor Lotto

The Aune Conservation Association has been accepted as a worthy participant in the SeaMoor Lotto.   Click on the link below, to find out more.
You may even wish to buy a few tickets after the 27th June 2018 launch date.  If so, don’t forget to nominate  the ACA as a good local cause!



Notice of AGM – Thursday 24th May 2018

This is formal notice that the 2018 AGM of the ACA will be held on Thursday 24th May at 7.00pm  in the Fisherman’s Rest, Aveton Gifford.

Copies of the 2017 AGM Minutes and 2017EOY Accounts will be available at the meeting.

As always, Committee members must retire and, if they so wish, stand for re-election at the AGM. Our current Committee is willing to stand again en masse and consists of Ros Brousson (Secretary & Treasurer; Aveton Gifford), Mary Clark (Woodleigh), Ryan Hooper (Bantham), Mike Cooper (Loddiswell), Peter Marsh (Bigbury), Bill Starey (AG), Stuart Watts (Chairman; Bigbury), and Eric White (AG).  Our Constitution specifies no maximum number of committee members and if you would like to stand you should complete the attached Nomination Form and return it to me prior to the AGM.  Any new nominations must be proposed and seconded by ACA members to be valid.  It is no criticism of our current committee to point out that an injection of fresh ideas is always welcome.

The Committee very much hopes you will be able to come to the AGM.  However, if this is not possible, please let one of us have your views on any matters concerning the ACA and we will make sure they are raised at the meeting.

This year, the formal business of the AGM will be followed by a talk about ‘Microplastics in the Aquatic Environment’  by Dr Pennie Lindeque of the Plymouth Marine Labs.  Pennie is a  renowned expert on the bioavailability and impact of microplastic in our oceans, a topic of immense topical interest and concern, worldwide.  She is also a Bigbury resident and ACA member.

The evening will be topped off with a light buffet.   This year, for the first time, we shall be asking for donations to help with the cost of the food and hire of the room.

We look forward to seeing you on 24th May.


Dear ACA member

I’m sorry to trouble you with this chore but would you please respond to the following request to confirm your continuing membership of the ACA.    You may well have received similar recent requests from other organisations and an explanation is offered in the document below (see link).  NB This is not some internet ‘phishing’ expedition!

Willow bed walk

Don Gaskins, who looks after the willow bed at the top of Duke’s Mill Creek, will be leading a walk around the willows from 2.30pm on Wednesday 16th May.  All ACA members are invited to attend but parking is severely limited.  Please let Stuart Watts know in advance if you plan to come along; by email at sdmw2@btopenworld.com or tel: 01548 810373


AVON ESTUARY FORUM – Tuesday, 15th May 2018

The next Forum’s Agenda may be found here –  150518 AEF invite and draft agenda

The notes from the last Forum in October 2017 are available here –  AEF notes 17th October’17

A presentation at the last Forum on the Grey Long-eared bat is available here –  AEF notes 17-10-17 – Grey long-eared bat talk

A presentation at the last Forum on the Pacific Oyster is available here – AEF notes 17-10-17 – Pacific oyster talk

Estuary and Bantham beach events

I have received the following notice from the Outdoor swimming Society:-
We wanted to once again notify you of the Swoosh swimming event that will be taking place on the morning of Saturday 14th July 2018. Swimmers will be entering the water from 7.40am at Aveton Gifford and the last swimmers will be exiting the water at 10.15am at Bantham Beach. We are once again working very closely with Aveton Gifford Parish Council and the Bantham Estate on the event. We’ll be having another 6 swimmers fundraising again this year for the Aveton Gifford Community Swimming Pool.  BOAT USERS BE PARTICULARLY AWARE OF SWIMMERS, PLEASE!
Separately, The Tribal Clash on Bantham beach will take place on the w/e of 7th/8th July 2018.  Disruption of Bigbury traffic is unlikely but there will be lots going in Bantham!  The estuary should not be affected.

TIDAL ROAD CLEAN UP – 2.00pm, Sunday 4th March 2018

For various reasons it’s been some time since our last clean up around the Tidal Road but I am currently planning another for Sunday 4th March at 2.00pm to coincide with Low Water.  I hope you will be able to come along and join in.  Please tell your friends or, better still, bring them along.
We usually have one group starting from Timbers car park  at AG to work downstream towards the stakes at Milburn Orchard and another starting from the Milburn Orchard car park to work towards the sea.
Giving credit where it is due, it is worth noting that these days most of the foreshore rubbish on land owned by the Bantham Estate is cleaned up by estate staff on a regular basis but, inevitably, a lot of other rubbish either gets carried further up the estuary on high tides or is dumped upstream in the first place.
I’ll be issuing further details nearer the time but please mark this date in your diary.


See link:-




Tel: 01803 861368 Email: communications@swdevon.gov.uk


Rise in Speeding on Salcombe Harbour


The Salcombe Harbour Office reports that there has been an unwelcome rise in the number of vessels caught speeding this year, within Salcombe Harbour and surrounding areas.

Despite the highest allowed speed in the harbour being 8 knots (9 mph), some vessels have been stopped for travelling at speeds of over 30 knots (35 mph).  The areas affected by speeding are Salcombe Harbour, including the estuary right up to Kingsbridge, the ‘Bar’ and Harbour entrance but also in South Pool Creek and Widegates.

The Salcombe Harbour Master, Adam Parnell said: “My team has stopped 35 boats for speeding, and some have been travelling so fast that our patrol boat, which can do in excess of 35 knots, has struggled to catch up.

“We know that this number represents the tip of the iceberg. We receive many calls and emails from members of the public who witness speeding, but unfortunately they often don’t tell us until hours or even days later, so it’s often too late to do anything about it.”

To deal with the rise in speeding, the Harbour Authority is increasing additional speeding patrols both at the Bar and in Widegates. “It appears that not only are these vessels speeding, but they’re not even aware of who and what is around them, and that’s a real concern,” said the Assistant Harbour Master, Cameron Sims-Stirling.

“What is particularly disappointing,” said Cllr Julian Brazil, Chairman of the Harbour Authority, “is that many of the vessels the team stop, are actually locals who should know better.”

All vessels caught speeding were given either a verbal or written warning, but in the worst cases, they received a formal interview under caution.

“A lot of people don’t realise that speeding is regulated by Harbour Bye-laws, a breach of which is a prosecutable criminal offence” said the Harbour Master. “Unlike speeding in a car, which is a civil offence, the helm of a speeding vessel can end up with a criminal record and be fined up to £1000.”

“They don’t realise the damage that their wake is causing behind them.  We’ve had reports of paddle-boarders being washed off their boards and smaller vessels capsized.” The Authority is particularly concerned at reports from local marine businesses that the poor behaviour of a few is having on the reputation of Salcombe as a safe harbour, with paddle-board companies concerned for the safety of their customers.

Anyone witnessing a speeding vessel is strongly encouraged to report it to the Harbour Office as soon as possible so that the appropriate action can be taken.  You can report this by phone on: 01548 843791 or by Twitter @Salcombeharbour.


BEACH CLEAN: Bigbury-on-Sea

If you’d like to help keep the beaches around the estuary free of  rubbish, you can come along on Saturday 30th September at 10.00am for a 1 – hour beach clean.  The event is being organised by Amanda Keetley from ‘Less Plastic’ in association with ‘Surfers against Sewage’ and is being supported by Venus cafe, who will be providing free tea/coffee for volunteers (please BYO reusable mug!).

Meet on the beach below the free (surfers) car park, at the bottom of Folly Hill at 10.00am.   HW will be around 1350.  Please come suitably attired and observe our usual safety precautions (see guidelines at https://auneconservation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ACA-BEACH-CLEANS3.pdf).  Gloves and bags will be provided.

Here is the link on Amanda’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/319088615222660

I hope to see you there!

The lime kilns of South Devon – an illustrated talk: 7.00pm, 7th September

See link for details




The ACA has collaborated with the AONB Estuaries Partnership in producing a new biosecurity plan, available on the link below, to help stop the spread of marine non-native species in our South Hams estuaries..  Please read it and take note.

The risks of an invasive non-native species in the Avon are relatively low owing to the regular flushing of the estuary by freshwater but with increases in the number of people and craft using the estuary for recreational purposes, the danger is still present.  Please be vigilant and take any relevant precautions, as advised in the plan.

The effects of invasion by Spartina or cord grass in the Avon Estuary after artificial introduction by Man are all too evident in the steady accumulation of silt and mud.   Multiplication of the Pacific Oyster outside of the farmed racks in our estuary is prevented by limiting the externally-sourced juveniles to triploid (infertile) individuals.

See the full plan here:-


ACA AGM – 2017

To all ACA members:-

This is formal notice that the 2017 AGM of the ACA will be held on Thursday 25th May at 7.00pm  in the Fisherman’s Rest, Aveton Gifford.

Copies of the 2016 AGM Minutes and 2016 EOY Accounts will be available at the meeting.

All Committee members must retire and, if they so wish, stand for re-election at the AGM. Our current Committee is willing to stand again and consists of Ros Brousson (Secretary & Treasurer; Aveton Gifford), Mary Clark (Woodleigh), Ryan Hooper (Bantham), Mike Cooper (Loddiswell), Peter Marsh (Bigbury), Bill Starey (AG), Stuart Watts (Chairman; Bigbury), and Eric White (AG). Our Constitution specifies no maximum number of committee members and if you would like to stand you should complete the attached Nomination Form and return it to me prior to the AGM.  Any new nominations must be proposed and seconded by ACA members to be valid.  All committees benefit from an injection of fresh talent from time to time!

The Committee very much hopes you will be able to come to the AGM.  However, if this is not possible please let one of us have your views on any matters concerning the ACA and we will make sure they are raised at the meeting.

This year, the formal business of the AGM will be followed by a slide show about the estuary by Mike Wynne-Powell of Ringmore.    Mike, an ACA member, is Chairman of the Kingsbridge & District Camera Club and is renowned for the high artistic and insightful quality of his photographic work.

The evening will be topped off with a light buffet for which there will be no charge.

We look forward to seeing you on 25th May.

Upper estuary improvement by Bantham Estate

Following the purchase by the Bantham Estate of Little Marsh, on the bridge at Aveton Gifford, we are pleased to point out the significant clearance of boat ‘junk’ and potential pollutants of the upper estuary from around the foreshore.

The ACA continues to work with the Estate  towards achieving a common understanding of the future for the estuary; a future that will conserve and improve the unspoilt character of this beautiful idyll.


At the Avon Estuary Forum on 16th May 2017, John Roberts (Chair of the Devon Avon Fishing Association) presented a fascinating talk about the Riverfly Monitoring Project on the river.  Four stations are monitored : near Avonwick (Kerry Downs), Gara Bridge,  New Mill Bridge and Knapp Mill.  The results of these studies and other similar studies throughout the UK can be found at www.http://www.riverflies.org/riverflies-1 .  Local data indicate that water quality at the monitoring sites is generally good.

The substance of John’s talk can be found here – River Avon Riverfly Partnership

Boat Watch

This is a message sent via Devon and Cornwall Alert. This information has been sent on behalf of Devon and Cornwall Police

(Please do not reply or forward this email directly; please use the Reply, Share buttons at the bottom of this message)
Message sent by
Linzi Berryman (Police, Community Messaging Officer, De)

Dear Boat Watch member

It is the time of year we typically see an increase in reported marine crime and I request you remain vigilant and report any suspicious, unusual activity or marine crimes which may occur.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of Project Kraken and request you keep us updated with any information which may be of use to us.

Project Kraken – a joint initiative now being delivered by the NCA, Border Force and police forces – aims to increase public reporting and strengthen the general maritime industry’s response to the threats.
We want you to report any unusual or suspicious behaviour in these and other maritime environments. No matter how trivial it may seem; if it looks out of the ordinary, we want to know about it.
Whether you work in the maritime industries, are a keen sailor, or are just walking along the coast, your local knowledge and your experience of the maritime world means you are well placed to spot anything unusual.
By working together we can help to prevent terrorists and organised criminals posing a threat to your neighbours, your pastimes, your businesses and your livelihoods.
They will exploit any opening they find.
How you can help
We want you to report any unusual or suspicious activity near the coastline and in maritime environments.
This could include, among others:

Boats with names or identification numbers painted out, altered or erased.
People or packages landed or disembarked from boats in unusual locations and transferred into waiting vehicles. Why are they suspicious? Note times, locations, descriptions of vessels, persons, including boat names, sail numbers, hull colours or other distinctive markings. If vehicles are seen note make, registration, colour and nationality.
Boats moving late at night or early in the morning in suspicious circumstances, showing little or no navigational lighting or signalling to persons or vehicles ashore.
Boats which may be overloaded, appear low in the water, contain people who do not appear to be able to handle the vessel or are inadequately dressed for the prevailing weather conditions.
Boats containing people who appear to be engaged in unusual boat handling techniques such as recovering swimmers or divers from the water.
Rigid inflatable boats moving at unusual times or seen in unusual locations and fitted with extra fuel tanks.
Suspicious requests to buy or store large amounts of fuel, satellite navigational equipment, gas bottles, chemicals, uniforms or badges.
Suspicious or unfamiliar persons seen in marinas or coastal areas carrying tools, paying attention to or taking photographs of vessels with high value items such as engines and electronic navigational equipment.
Suspicious persons who ask questions about security procedures or who are observed filming/taking photographs/making notes or drawing diagrams of: military/police/security facilities, vulnerable public areas such as bridges, tourist attractions, shopping, restaurant or passenger processing, embarkation/disembarkation routes at cruise ship, ferry terminals or docking facilities.
Suspicious persons seen to abandon a vehicle onboard a ferry and walk ashore or who leave a vehicle in an unusual position in areas of high volume public or passenger access.
Suspicious vessels observed entering maritime restricted areas or seen in close proximity to large cargo or passenger vessels whilst underway or at anchor.
Suspicious persons seeking unusual instruction on the water such as diving, hiring powerboats, inflatable RHIBS or yachts. Who are they and where are they from? Obtain as much information as possible.
Crew who show signs of nervousness or a lack of awareness of maritime protocols and customs.
Vessels showing signs of unusual modification or minor damage.
Increased activity at isolated coastal locations or at unusual times of the day.
Any attempts to signal to vessels offshore or guide them into an unusual landfall.
Strange patterns of payment, such as large amounts of cash.
What should you do?
If you see unusual or suspicious activity, report it to your local police on 101, or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 and quote ‘Project Kraken’.
Record as much information as you can – the smallest detail could be significant. Do not take direct action against any individuals or groups.
If it is an emergency or you require immediate Police attendance, call 999

Beach watch data on marine litter collection (2016)


The full research report behind this summary is available on the Research Report page of this website.


Our ever popular  clean up will be held from 2-3pm on Sunday 1st January 2017– weather permitting.  Feel free to bring your friends and guests to help out.  We’ll meet at both ‘Timbers’ car park (Aveton Gifford) and the Milburn Orchard car park (at the Bigbury end of the Tidal Road) with the two groups planning to meet in the middle!

Please bring any old sacks, etc. to collect the rubbish and follow our  safety guidelines  at https://auneconservation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ACA-BEACH-CLEANS3.pdf

Water Mills on the Devon Avon

Click on this link for an account , by Don Gaskins of the Devon Rural Skills Trust & ACA, of a recent talk by Joddy Chapman.

Watermills on South Devon



Nigel Mortimer of the AONB has sent this message and link to a recent talk by Prof Richard Thompson.:-

During Science Week, earlier this year, I invited you to a couple of talks on plastics ‘The Good, the Bad & the Ugly’ kindly hosted by the Kingsbridge Community College.

Professor Richard Thompson from Plymouth University was one of the two excellent speakers, talking on “Marine Litter: are there solutions to this global environmental problem ?”

Professor Thompson gave a very similar talk to members of the Marine Biological Association last Friday and due to Global demand, the talk was recorded. If you’d like to watch it yourself, here is the link;


Richard spoke to the ACA some years ago but his story about microplastics has moved on somewhat since then.  I attended the talk at Kingsbridge College referred to by Nigel and found it fascinating.   An outline is provided below.:-
Marine Litter is a global environmental problem with consequences for human health, the economy and wildlife.  This litter is pervasive throughout our oceans form the poles to the equator and from sea surface and shoreline to the deep sea. It is hazardous to seafarers resulting in unnecessary coastguard and rescue callouts and has substantial economic consequences for the local authorities responsible for clean-up. Perhaps most widely documented are encounters with wildlife which can result in direct harm and death. Well over 600 species of marine organisms are reported to encounter marine litter and the majority of these encounters are with plastic items.

However, marine litter is an environmental problem that can be solved. The majority of the items that become marine litter are single use disposable items including packaging and sewage related debris. Such items can bring considerable societal benefit, for example in terms of food security and light weighting to reduce fuel usage, however these benefits can all be realised without the need for any  emissions of litter to the ocean.  Hence the long term solutions lie in recognising that if designed, used and disposed of appropriately, then end-of-life items that currently accumulate in waste management facilities and as litter in the natural environment can be used as a resource for production of new products. Working toward a circular economy of this kind will help reduce our reliance on non-renewable resources and simultaneously reduce the quantity of waste requiring disposal.

Results of September’s beach clean by ACA volunteers on Cockleridge: 2016

The results can be viewed by clicking on the link below:-


‘Water mills on the Devon Avon – an exploration of historical sites’

Thursday 24th November 2016
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Once upon a time there was a surprising number of water mills along the length of the Devon Avon, supporting a way of life that has now largely disappeared.  However, many fascinating remnants still exist and this talk, ‘Water mills on the Devon Avon – an exploration of historical sites’,  by Joddy Chapman will set the scene.   The talk is jointly presented by the Aune Conservation Association and Bigbury History Society in Bigbury Memorial Hall (StAnn’s Chapel, Bigbury, TQ7 4HQ).  All will be welcome to attend.  Tea and biscuits will be available.  There will be a small entry charge to cover our costs.

BEACH CLEAN on COCKLERIDGE _ Sunday 18th September 2016

As part of the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean – 2016, we are organising a clean up of rubbish on Cockleridge on Sunday 18th September between 3pm & 4pm (low water will be around 2.00pm) – weather permitting   You can sign up via this link –  http://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/user/register

The main purposes of these events are both to rid the estuary of unsightly rubbish and to protect those species which may be damaged or destroyed by its presence in, on, under or near the water.   Secondary objectives are to have fun on the beach or river  and enjoy each others company.

Most of these beach cleans are held in association with the Marine Conservation Society.  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

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.

All are welcome but no unaccompanied minors, please.  Please come equipped with stout footwear, gardening gloves, warm clothes, etc. If you have any spare collection sacks, they would be useful.

Netting Permit Byelaw – publicity events

Devon and Severn IFCA are holding a number of events to publicise the proposed Netting Permit Byelaw.   Please join Officers at the promotion trailer that will be at the following venues between 1600hrs and 2000hrs.  This is your opportunity to ask questions and find out more information.  Large charts showing estuaries and coastal areas will be on display as well as the byelaw and permit conditions.  Copies will be available for you to take away.  Please advertise this as widely as possible within the fishing community.

Churchfields car park, Appledore, EX39 1RL                                         15th August 2016
Cove car park, The Cove, Ilfracombe, EX34 9EN                                   16th August 2016
Fish Quay, Sutton Harbour, Plymouth, PL4 0LH                                  17th August 2016
Imperial Road Recreational Ground, Exmouth, EX8 1DB                    18th August 2016
The Den, Den Crescent, Teignmouth, TQ14 8AA                                  19th August 2016
Quay West car park, Quay West, Minehead, TA24 5UP                      22nd August 2016
Entrance to Sailing Club, The Promenade, Clevedon, BS21 7QU       23rd August 2016
Manor Road car park, Sidmouth, EX10 8RR                                         24th August 2016
Car park, Creek boat park, Gould Road, Salcombe, TQ8 8DU             25th August 2016
Freshwater Quarry car park, Blackball Lane, Brixham, TQ5 8BA        26th August 2016

The byelaw, permit conditions and charts can be viewed in advance on our website: www.devonandsevernifca.gov.uk/public-consultation-


Mat Mander
Deputy Chief Officer (Enforcement)


Some important relevant consultations that are live at the moment  :

1.    The South Devon AONB Planning Guidance Consultation is now open until Tuesday 16th August 2016. For full details, please visit www.southdevonaonb.org.uk/our-work/responding-to-planning/south-devon-aonb-planning-guidance-consultation

We are also presently preparing a guide to preparing a ‘Construction Environmental Management Plan’ – essentially an audit of all the potential environmental impacts of a development, from inception to post build use, and how each impact will be mitigated to safeguard the setting and ‘downstream’ habitats of the development.

2.   The Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority has formally advertised the proposed Netting Permit Byelaw 2016 yesterday and the period of public consultation on the Byelaw has started.

The proposed Byelaw will provide the Authority with the ability to balance the needs of persons netting with the requirements to secure a sustainable marine eco-system and local socio-economic environment for the benefit of all sea users.  Any person that uses a net, other than of a type specified in the byelaw, to fish in the Authority’s District is required to do so in accordance with a permit issued by the Authority.  Under this byelaw the Authority will have the ability, among other things, to restrict the number of nets that can be used, where the nets can be used and introduce a daily catch limit.  The permit conditions contain all the Authority’s management restrictions that apply to netting activity in the District.  The permit conditions will be reviewed when necessary on the basis of best available evidence and within a time period not exceeding three years.

A full text of the above Byelaw, the permit conditions and the associated Impact Assessment can be inspected at, or obtained from Devon & Severn IFCA, Brixham Laboratory, Freshwater Quarry, Brixham, Devon, TQ5 8BA. Tel: 01803 854648; Email: office@devonandsevernifca.gov.uk or viewed on www.devonandsevernifca.gov.uk

Any person wishing to comment, support or object to the confirmation of the above Byelaw must do so in writing to:

Marine Conservation and Enforcement Team, Marine Management Organisation, Lancaster House, Hampshire Court, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE4 7YH (or IFCAbyelaws@marinemanagement.org.uk) by 22nd September 2016 and must send a copy to the Chief Officer at Devon & Severn IFCA, Brixham Laboratory, Freshwater Quarry, Brixham, Devon, TQ5 8BA (or office@devonandsevernifca.gov.uk  ).

The Authority intends to hold a series of events between 15th and 26th August 2016 around the district to publicise the Byelaw consultation and to provide you with an opportunity to discuss the proposals with the Authority’s officers.  Some venues are yet to be confirmed so please visit our website or contact the office after 29th July 2016 to find out when and where the events will be held.


Please phone us with any information on 101 or e-mail general.enquiries@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk.

This message relates to crime no. 50887/16. Overnight of Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th July 2016, Police have received three reports of outboard engines and an inflatable boat being stolen from the Ditch End area in East Portlemouth. We believe the offenders have had to use a boat to reach these moored boats before cutting through padlocks to steal the engines. Would marine/boat owners please be aware and review your security, marking your engines. Take serial numbers and photos to help with identification should a boat, outboard engine are recovered after a theft. If you have any information regarding these incidents please contact 101 or email 101@dc.police.uk quoting crime no. 50887/16. Thank you.

ACA BBQ & PICNIC – 8th July 2016

Our BBQ was attended by just under 50 people and, thankfully, although the sky was a bit overcast, the weather was relatively kind to us.   As usual, the estuarine views were astounding!

Here are a few photographs:-

The ram!





Stolen canoe – Aveton Gifford

To Marine watch recipients. This message relates to crime no. 45894/16. Between Tuesday 5th and Friday 8th July 2016 the following canoe was stolen from Aveton Gifford. The canoe is described as being 17ft long dark green Canadian canoe. It has a neat hole drilled in the side at the front of the canoe in order to thread a chain through. There is also a Devon flag sticker to the rear.

If anyone has information regarding the whereabouts of this canoe please contact the Police on 101 or email 101@dc.police.uk quoting Crime No. 45894/16. Thank you.

NB  This canoe belongs to an ACA member!

ACA BBQ – July 8th, overlooking the Avon Estuary

Full details about our 2016 ram roast on July 8th are available here – Ram roast 2016


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
Team SAS

AGM – 2016

Tha ACA’s AGM will be held at 7.00pm on Thursday 26th May in the Fisherman’s Rest, Aveton Gifford.   The Agenda is available here – AGM AGENDA 2016[6]


May 2016 – further ‘ecological’ water releases from Avon dam

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.

South Hams Society AGM & talk on the coastal protection work of the National Trust

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:-


Devon Avon (Water Quality) Group

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.


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.

Restoration of the upper Avon – a report on fish-spawning gravel augmentation

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.

New Bantham owner decries permitted sewage bypasses into Devon Avon

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 –



New Year 2016 clean up along Tidal Road

For details, click on this link – Tidal Road clean up NYD 2016


The ACA Chairman’s perspective on current news is available here – December-2015-Newsletter


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.


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’.

THINK BEFORE YOU DIP! There may be harmful bugs in the estuary.

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!


Bathing Water designation and microbiological testing for Avon estuary?

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.


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 –   https://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

ACA BBQ and picnic – July 10th 2015

Details of this event at 6.00pm, Friday 10th July 2015 at Folly Farm, Bigbury-on-Sea are available by clicking on this link –  Ram roast 2015

2015 AGM Minutes

The minutes of the 2015 AGM are available by clicking here – AGM Minutes 2015


Action notes from the 1st June meeting of the DAG are available here – Avon notes 010615

Other papers related to the DAG and SHRImP projects are available as sub-pages of the main ECOLOGY page on this website.

AGM 2015 – Agenda

Annual General Meeting, 2015

Fisherman’s Rest, Aveton Gifford, Thursday 28th May, 7.00pm


  1. Welcome
  2. Minutes of AGM, 2014
  3. Matters arising
  4. Chairman’s Report
  5. Accounts for 2014 & Treasurer’s Report
  6. Retirement and Election of Committee Members
  7. 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.

BANTHAM ‘SWOOSH’ – an Outdoor Swimming Society event on 5th July

”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/


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 – https://auneconservation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Fisheries-Bank_-Reservoir-water-release_2015.docx

Tidal Road clean-up: Sunday 10th May , 1500-1600: 2015

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 – https://auneconservation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ACA-BEACH-CLEANS3.pdf




This link describes a Devon Wildlife Trust initiative to restore wildlife habitats in the Avon valley – Avon Valley Project – revised

Electrofishing report on the Avon, Erme & Yealm

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.


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    john.ward@southhams.gov.uk because he is anxious to build a case to try and rid the estuary of this nuisance.



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.


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   https://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 .


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.

DECEMBER 2014 – Newsletter

Click here for a brief account of recent ACA activities – December 2014 Newsletter[4]


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


A  little orange and white Sportyak named ANN has gone missing recently from the foreshore at Milburn Orchard.  If you know of its whereabouts, please contact Pat Cassidy at patcass17@btinternet.com



AVON VALLEY PROJECT – Summer/Autumn newsletter 2014

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
few months.
If you have any questions or queries, or would like to arrange a site
visit, please do get in touch (info@devonhabitats.co.uk/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.

Best wishes
Craig Dunton
Assistant Landscape Ecologist
Think Nature/SDNT


Rubbish counters and classifiers


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!


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.


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.

BEACHWATCH ‘BIG WEEKEND’ 2014 – Sunday 21st September 1100am

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


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.

Feeding the Avon's swans

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.

South Efford Marsh with Maya Plass and Aveton Gifford school children

Maya at SEM

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.


Bluebell walk to Stiddicombe Wood

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 .

Annual General Meeting 2014

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.

BANTHAM SLIDE SHOW – 5th May, 1800 for 1830

Details of an evening featuring a slideshow of the history of Bantham to be held at The Sloop are available by clicking here – Slideshow Poster

This is a ‘Friends of Bantham’ event.

April newsletter

Please click on the following link  for an update on our activities and a diary of events (e.g. Maya’s South Efford adventures with the local school children, beach cleans, BBQ, etc.)  –  April 2014 Newsletter

ACA AGM 2014

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.


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 info@mayaplass.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!


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


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 – contactus@devonwildlifetrust.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.


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.


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.


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




The revised contact details for reporting suspected illegal fishing can be seen listed by clicking on this notice –

Reporting of Suspected Fisheries Offences – revised

Fishing with nets in the estuary

Check this link for more on the fish netting story:-



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!

Best wishes

Nigel Nigel Mortimer Estuaries Officer – South Devon AONB Unit Follaton House, Plymouth Rd, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5NE 

01803 861465  07971 544010 (not 24/7)


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.


Click on this link to check the river records at Loddiswell Gauging Station:-



December 2012 newsletter

The Committee would like to wish all our members a  happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.

Details of our recent activities and our New Year’s Day tidy up around the Tidal Road can be found by clicking on the following link:-

December 2012 Newsletter_web


Thanks to a recent generous donation from the Eucalyptus Trust, we have been able to extend our research award scheme for 2012/2013. See link – https://auneconservation.org.uk/?page_id=189