Archive for April, 2010

2010 AGM Report

At our AGM on 21st April, the existing committee (Ros Brousson, Peter Marsh, John Peters, Bill Starey, Stuart Watts and Eric White) was re-elected with the welcome addition of Mike Cooper of Loddiswell (representing upstream interests) and our activities for the coming year were outlined.  We shall continue to concentrate on the central issues of water quality and quantity. 

Specifically, we shall be building on our information database about the location of two species of invasive weed, Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam which threaten the Avon, with a view to controlling the weeds’ spread.  We hope to arrange some ’balsam bashing’ working parties early this summer.  In his talk after the formal business of the meeting, Roger English of the AONB Unit gave us some ideas about how we might use recent mapping developments, available on the internet, to catalogue reports from the public about the location of invasive weeds requiring treatment.

Our second main area of activity will be our beach and river clean-ups.  In addition to our quarterly beach cleans on Cockleridge, we shall be extending our work on cleaning up around the Tidal Road between Aveton Gifford and Stakes Road.  That stretch has now been accepted into the Marine Conservation Society’s ‘Adoptabeach’ scheme which means tightening up on our safety procedures and adding another couple of clean-ups per year.  Fortunately, the South Devon AONB Unit’s Sustainable Development Fund and the Duchy of Cornwall have helped us with some of the extra costs of safety signage and insurance for which we are very grateful.

On a different tack, we shall be looking more deeply into the occurrence of phosphates in the waters of the Avon.  Historical Environment Agency data indicate that the levels of soluble phosphate have been too high, resulting in abnormal stimulation of algal growth and the early stages of eutrophication of the river.  Our working hypothesis is that this condition is having a deleterious effect on the ecology of the river, with a slow but steady reduction in biodiversity;  such effects have been widely recorded elsewhere – you need look no further than Slapton Ley for a more extreme example.  Peter Marsh presented an argument for us all to use phosphate-free detergents for washing purposes and suggested that so-called ‘grey’ water from baths, etc. might be best used in watering the garden rather than being discharged down the drain. 

Considerable emphasis was placed on the importance of this website for  communicating both with our members and with the public about our activties.  Following the main business of the meeting, Bill Starey presented an illustrated talk about how to participate in the members’ forum and provided an introduction to the wealth of useful information available on the site.

For light relief, we shall be organising a few social events, the first of which will be a ‘bluebell picnic’ in Stiddicombe Wood in early May.   There will also be a repeat of last year’s very popular  ram roast at Folly Hill Farm in July, courtesy of Jane and John Tucker.  We shall be arranging an art competition (photographs, drawings or paintings) to find a suitable image for an ACA greetings card.  If you are interested in submitting an entry or in finding out more about any of our activities, please keep an eye on this website.


Bill  has added an array of photographs of the estuary to the GALLERY page but we need many more, including upstream scenes (source to sea!) to give a complete picture of what the Avon has to offer.  If you have any suitable photographs, please let us know – see ABOUT ACA/CONTACT US.

Separately, we shall be organising a competition to find a photograph or drawing of  an Avon scene that we can use on a Christmas and/or greetings card which we would plan to sell.   If you think you can provide a better picture than we have already shown and fancy the opportunity to help us earn a little revenue to  expand our charitable activities in conserving, protecting and improving the river, why not submit an entry to   Entries should be in by 31st August.   Please note: submission would automatically grant the ACA committee  permission to use the image for whatever purpose it sees fit, without constraint.  Depending on the number of entries, we might involve the whole membership in the judging process!


Himalayan Balsam is an invasive weed that clogs waterways.  The ACA has been fortunate to obtain an award from the South Devon AONB’s Sustainable Development Fund to produce a leaflet asking the public to let us know where, in the Avon’s catchment, this weed is a problem and to volunteer for ACA ‘balsam bashing’ working parties in the early summer.  A pilot scheme to clear the weed is likely to take place in Duke’s Mill Creek, off the Tidal Road, and details will be provided on this website for those interested in joining.

Click here to see our information leaflet for an outline of the problem:- HIMALAYAN BALSAM INVADES THE AVON VALLEY 9.    Hard copies of the leaflet for local distribution may be obtained by e-mailing


The Marine Conservation Society has accepted the ACA’s periodic and (previously) somewhat casual Tidal Road clean-ups, between Stakes Road and Aveton Gifford, as part of their ‘Adoptabeach’ scheme. This will entail more frequent sweeps along the road for rubbish dropped by passers-by in boats or cars, flushed out of the AG sewage works or swept in from the sea.  Records of finds will be maintained for reporting purposes.  New safety guidelines have been published as a result of a formal risk assessment process (see ECOLOGY/BEACH CLEANS) and these will need to be observed by all volunteers as a condition of participation.  The Duchy of Cornwall has kindly provided some funding for the purchase of portable hazard warnings signs to help prevent traffic accidents during the clean-ups.  We hope the higher degree of organisation will not detract from the fun and enjoyment of taking part in these events.

Our quarterly beach cleans on Cockleridge, organised in association with Maya Plass of  ‘Learn to Sea’ and MCS, are already covered by similar safety guidelines and will continue, unaffected.

AGM AGENDA – Aveton Gifford Village Hall: 1900 Wed. 21st April 2010

  1. Welcome
  2. Minutes of AGM, 2009
  3. Matters arising from Minutes of AGM, 2009
  4. Chairman’s Report
  5. Accounts for 2009 & Treasurer’s Report
  6. Retirement and Election of Committee Members
  7. Open Forum


a) The website: a user’s guide – Bill Starey

b) What’s in our water? – Peter Marsh

c) Mapping what’s where in the catchment? – Roger English (AONB Unit)