Agenda item

Public Questions (if any)


The following questions regarding parking at Dawlish Warren were asked by Andrew Bulpin – Dawlish Warren Tourism; Mr Bulpin was not in attendance at the meeting.


1.            How will this proposal effect the new Nature Reserve Visitor Centre?


The adopted South East Devon European Site Mitigation Strategy is referred to in the Item 10 officer report.  The Strategy proposes both (1) the Habitat Regulations Executive Committee (HREC) recommendations to amend parking arrangements at Dawlish Warren; and (2) the new relocated visitor centre.  The two projects were considered together during preparation of the Strategy.  The HREC recommendations would not impact on the proposed new visitor centre apart from resulting in a potentially longer walk from the car park.


There is a current bid for Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) towards the visitor centre, which makes it clear that the intention with the new visitor centre is not to increase visitors to the site but to ensure that those visitors that do come have a greater understanding of the site having been attracted to a more visible, higher profile building.   


2.            Businesses at Dawlish Warren are very concerned at the proposal to close part of the seaward side car park at any time.  Is this the thin end of the wedge which will extend to the summer, or even worse, a total car park closure and a dog ban?


The 2014 Mitigation Strategy neither anticipates summer closure of the car park, total closure of the car park nor a dog ban.  Total closure of the seaward car park was considered during Mitigation Strategy preparation but ultimately ruled out.  Instead, closure of the existing gates was favoured and included in the Strategy.  It was considered likely to result in the least impact on local traders, hence the HREC recommendation.    


The Mitigation Strategy is a public document where all planned measures are listed.  Decisions relating to implementation of the Strategy are made in public and published quarterly.


I don’t feel that any consideration has been given to providing better signage or even fencing to restrict the areas you would like people to avoid rather than taking the drastic measure of closing the car park.  How do we know that closing the car park for a period will actually work?  I feel that education is the key to the issue, making sure holiday makers and locals are all informed of any restrictions and by-laws at Dawlish Warren, also the council need to provide funding to enforce restrictions that are imposed.  Has this been taken into consideration? 


The impacts of population growth on the Dawlish Warren and Exe Estuary European Sites is a matter that Teignbridge has been taking very seriously.  The measures suggested through this question are sensible and, in fact, already largely feature within the Mitigation Strategy.  Appendix 2 of the Item 10 report summarises the status of each Mitigation Strategy measure.  It includes confirmation that an information board and signage review is underway and that new car park boundaries are planned. 


A more widespread approach of fencing to restrict access to sensitive areas could mean fencing off most of the site apart from the area between groynes 1-9 on the beach and the resort area but this was ruled out of the Strategy.


If the car parking arrangements are changed, visitor counters could be used before and after to monitor the impact of the proposed car park changes. Consideration is being given to whether this could be done in conjunction with a repeat of the “Assessment of recreational impacts at Dawlish Warren SAC” survey.  The Survey considers the specific issues related to visitor impact on matters like species diversity, habitat, and nutrient load.  This kind of monitoring would help to accurately gauge any changes to impacts on the site and, therefore, whether the HREC proposals have succeeded.


Education is a very important aspect of influencing visitor behaviours.  There has been a ranger presence on the Warren since the late 1970’s and they have always had an educational remit but recreational impacts are still evident. Without effective changes to management, vulnerable sites such as the Warren simply cannot accommodate the anticipated visits from a significantly increased local population whilst also maintaining its ecological integrity as an internationally important site. Teignbridge has a legal responsibility to ensure that these likely impacts are mitigated.


Nevertheless, the Mitigation Strategy provides for an enhanced programme of education and the Warren Rangers are now complemented by the Habitat Mitigation Officers and the Devon Loves Dogs scheme. Other projects include regular newsletters, redesigned signage and an increased social media presence; all of which will promote key messages about the sensitivity of the site and how relatively small changes in behaviour can help to protect it from harm.  However, our mitigation partnership with Exeter City and East Devon councils is in its relative infancy and it will take time for the impact of our education programme to grow.


The following questions were asked by Mr Howard Evans:


1.            Has the Council established that gas, electricity, water, sewage systems and treatment have adequate capacity to ensure continuity of supply for the NA1 development and other developments in the Local Plan? Can you confirm that some Torquay developments use the Buckland treatment plant.

Teignbridge worked with utility providers during Local Plan preparation to confirm that planned development could be accommodated through enhancements to their networks. 

Water and sewage

South West Water were engaged during Local Plan preparation and took account of its proposals when preparing their 2015-2020 business plan.  They will do the same for the next investment period 2020-2025.  At the planning permission stage, Houghton Barton developers will need to work with South West Water to finalize the designs and costs of a scheme for requisitioning a water supply as well as a sewage solution.   

Following receipt of this question, South West Water were contacted again.  They reiterated that they will ensure adequate enhancements to their network, including any necessary enhancements to the Buckland treatment plant, to accommodate the impacts of development growth. 

South West Water also confirmed that a small proportion of sewage from development in Torbay is treated at the Buckland plant; specifically, development in the Edginswell area.

Electricity and gas

In the case of electricity and gas there are national guaranteed standards of performance relating to the provision of new connections. 

We have been in contact with Wales and West Utilities who confirm that the existing medium pressure gas mains near Bovey Tracey Road would currently support the development, and that they will grow their network in order to have capacity ready for future developments. They do however need more certainty (e.g. through planning application submission/approval for the site) that the development is coming forward before they commit to any funding.


We have also been in communication with Western Power who are responsible for electricity supplies and have confirm that the Bradley Lane substation currently has enough transformer capacity to cater for the site.  However, the network in the area of the site is not adequate to supply the anticipated load so another circuit will need to be laid from the substation to site.  They will be able to help further as soon as proposed site layouts and load estimates become available at the planning application stage.




2.            Does the Council envisage any problems with the improvements to the A382 road, especially as the Jettymarsh link is planned to go over underground mining tunnels?

Devon County Council’s Engineering Design Group have confirmed that they have investigated and accounted for ground and underground conditions and do not envisage any problems in the construction of the road. 


The Leader invited Mr Evans to submit any supplementary questions.


Mr Evans asked whether the Council was aware of the number of sewerage spills in the South West Water area recently reported in a national newspaper which should be of concern for officers.  He submitted that although the County Council had deemed the area of NA1 to be a suitable site for development, as a retired mining professional, he was not so sure.


The Leader submitted that authorities had to have a certain element of trust that officers fulfilled their obligations when assessing suitability for sites.  He asked if Mr Evans would make available any correspondence he had had with the County Council on the matter; Mr Evans agreed.