Archive for November, 2010


Our programme of river clean ups for the next few months is as follows.  Everybody is welcome but send no unaccompanied children, please.

NEW YEAR’S DAY – Tidal Road, starting at both ends (Timbers car park and Stakes Road) at  11.00 am on NYD.  Please come and help clean up our river.   There is no better way to start 2011!   It may be stating the obvious but you’ll need to wear stout waterproof boots, gloves and warm clothing.  Please bring strong collection bags if you have them.  The road can be quite busy with vehicular traffic so caution is required and any dogs must be kept on a lead.

Many thanks to the 20 or so people who turned up on NYD to help clean up around the Tidal Road.  The weather was kind and the companionable atmosphere in the Fisherman’s Rest afterwards was most enjoyable.  Although the rubbish haul was not as great as in recent years, the collected piles at Milburn Orchard and Timbers testified to  some serious hard labour amongst all the socialising – well worth the effort!

SUNDAY 13th MARCH – Cockleridge beach, Bigbury on Sea (opposite Bantham) at 11.00am-12.30pm.  In association with Maya Plass of  ‘Learn to Sea’ and the Marine Conservation Society (MCS). 

SATURDAY 25th JUNE – Cockleridge beach, Bigbury on Sea (opposite Bantham) at 11.00am-12.30pm.  In association with Maya Plass of  ‘Learn to Sea’ and the MCS. 

SATURDAY 19th NOVEMBER – ‘BEACHWATCH’.  This is MCS’s annual, national survey of beach litter or, in other words,  a ‘collect and count’ event in which we participate on Cockleridge; 2.00pm-3.30pm.  In association with Maya Plass of ‘Learn to Sea’ and the MCS.


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.


Come along to the Forum and have your say about anything to do with the Avon Estuary – 1900, Tuesday 23rd November, Thurlestone Parish Hall.


The Murray Rocks (Murrays) extend into the sea to the SE of Burgh Island, presenting a navigational hazard at high   tide or in rough seas when they are obscured from view.   Once upon a time, these rocks were marked by a pole with a cross on top but, more recently, only the broken remnants of a pole remain following  hammering by the sea. 

Murrays at low water

Murrays - Damaged marker pole

In the past, similar damage had occurred but was repaired through the voluntary efforts of Hugh Cater, I’m told.

A low definition chart showing the location of the rocks and associated information is available by clicking here:- Murrays chart

Considering the present situation to be dangerous to both local boat users and visiting boats, the ACA consulted Trinity House (who have responsibility for maintaining navigational markings) and we recently received the following response:-



‘I can confirm that our Inspector of Seamarks recently visited the area and observed the situation on site. His report has now been considered by mariners within our organisation who are responsible for deciding on navigational marking requirements. In making their decision, they have also borne in mind the charted and other published information available to those wishing to navigate in the area. Amongst other things they have noted that nautical publications aimed at recreational sailors recommend that local knowledge is necessary to attempt entry to the River Avon. I must therefore advise that we are unable to justify physical marking of these rocks at the expense of the General Lighthouse Fund (the Fund from which we are resourced) and that we further consider that any navigational marking, however resourced, is neither necessary or desirable. 

No doubt you will find this response disappointing, however we do consider that the risks associated with navigating close to the area of the Murray’s Rocks are such that they cannot be mitigated by the provision of aids to navigation’. 

This answer is indeed disappointing and rather puzzling!   In paraphrase – if you have an accident on the unmarked Murrays, it’s your own fault.   Why were the Murrays ever marked as a hazard in the first place?  Most small boat owners, out enjoying our local coastal waters, do not carry Admiralty charts describing every hazard and even with local knowledge about the dangers that abound when leaving or entering the Avon, it would be very helpful to have the full extent of the Murrays adequately marked.  Bigbury Parish Council have offered their verbal support for a new marker. 


Murrays - view from Burgh Island




Murrays - safe inshore anchorage






WHAT DO YOU THINK?  Please use our ‘Comments’ facility on this website to express your views.  You might  even  wish to attend the Avon Estuary Forum on 23rd November to have your say.    Can we, should we, pay for our own replacement marker?  Would you be prepared to donate towards it?