Posts Tagged ‘habitat’
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.
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’.
In mid-April, the first ever water release was made from the Avon Dam in the hope that the extra water would facilitate the natural movement of salmon smoult which takes place at this time of year. The release, the first in the 60-odd years since the dam was built, was made after a prolonged dry spell of weather when the river was at the lower end of its normal depth range. This trial release was made after prolonged negotiations between the Environment Agency, South West Water and the Avon Fishing Association, facilitated through meetings of the Devon Avon Group just as the South Hams Rivers Improvement Project comes to an end. However, it is hoped that the ‘trial’ will be the forerunner of further releases to be made for ecological purposes.
Details of the agreement are available here – http://auneconservation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Fisheries-Bank_-Reservoir-water-release_2015.docx
The Environment Agency (EA) responded to the community’s recent rejection of their revised plan for the flooding of South Efford Marsh (SEM) with a renewed drive to push ahead with the plan, in a probable collaboration with the Devon Wildlife Trust as managing partner. The plan has now been elaborated in slightly more detail and can be read by clicking here - SEM – EA Summary of points051110 . The area which the EA hopes to flood is depicted in the figure below, which shows the planned flood depth with salt water, and in the diagram showing habitat type to be created and the proposed hide location (click here) proposed Habitat Creation .
The ACA’s committee has unanimously rejected these more detailed plans because much remains unclear. The plans do not address our original objections about a) the uncertain, wider environmental outcomes of the project and b) the absurdity of destroying a well established BAP habitat (freshwater grazing marsh) to create a new one (salt marsh), over what might be a very extended period of time, solely in order to meet a national EA target for new salt marsh creation. Furthermore, the proposed freshwater ‘scrapes’ will be susceptible to ‘poaching’ by grazing cattle, unless fenced securely, and could become stagnant and unattractive to wildlife without a source of flowing fresh water.
Gary Streeter MP and others are also very concerned about the waste of public funds at a time of cut-backs which will have widespread repercussions, some of which will include other environmental projects with, arguably, greater importance and urgency e.g. flood protection.
However, in a private meeting, Aveton Gifford Parish Council (in whose area the marsh lies) has now decided to welcome the latest scheme as a potentially attractive public amenity within their parish. Whether this represents an acceptable level of public support for endorsement of the project is a moot point! The PC did add the following caveats, as summarised below in italics :-
The proposal to proceed has a number of riders attached and was passed unanimously.
1) The aspect and consideration of Flood Risk by EA’s Development Control should include consultation with those Bridge End residents close to South Efford Marsh at road level and lower. We understand that there would be no increase in flood risk by flooding South Efford Marsh; and that particularly the most affected local resident should approve any additional work through walls and moats to help stabilise the risk to his property.
2) That the EA look at the current sewage arrangements for South Efford House. There is a licence for permitted discharge. The location of the current septic tank should be assessed. The need for different and renewed arrangements, bearing in mind the Planning Application for expansion should be reviewed.
3) The Parish Council, through their appointed representatives (say two people) wish to be included in the forward planning and decision making process to bring local knowledge to bear, and to add a liaison point for the project.
4) The Parish Council to be informed and approve the lease that is created with managing partners.
We can only hope that the Parish Council’s confidence in the scheme will be justified and that we shall not all be left with a lifeless sea of mud, or worse, for the foreseeable future.