At the previous meeting of the Executive on 17 May 2022, the following was unanimously agreed:
Resolved that the Executive Committee:
1. Approves the 2022-23 Annual Business Plan (Appendix A) and the commitments and actions set out therein, subject to:
Delegated authority be granted to the Principal Projects Manager, Growth, Development and Prosperity in consultation with all members of the Executive Committee for approval following clarification on drones and justification for expenditure for the car park.
2. Notes the updated 5 Year Delivery Plan also shown in Appendix A.
3. Receives a further report relating to any proposed changes to the mitigation strategy regarding Dawlish Warren and the Exe estuary in relation to the Dawlish Warren Beach Management Scheme. Timing dependent on completion of a review by the Environment Agency.
Since that decision, the following has been clarified in respect of resolution 1:
1. Exe Estuary Code of Conduct – Personal Aircraft.
The intention is to include drones and other aircraft in a single code of conduct in the same way as the Exe Water User’s code combined best practise guidance for a number of different water-based activities. This grouped together a variety of similar activities which all have the potential for waterborne disturbance and were comparable in terms of thetype of disturbance and appropriate guidance governing responsible behaviour. The Personal Aircraft Code is intended to fulfil the same role for airborne disturbance and also:
· Provides consistency of approach with existing codes.
· Ensures cost efficiency with one set of codes being printed rather than two (or more).
· Helps to reassure user groups that they are not being singled out.
· Prevents a confusing scenario where there are a multitude of codes covering every conceivable activity.
Note that the Civil Aviation Authority are responsible for regulation of civilian airspace and the Royal Marines are responsible for appropriate use of the landing area/s at Lympstone. The personal aircraft code is intended to provide best practise guidance rather than licensing, governance or legislation relating to these activities.
The recommendation in the ABP outlines two potential options for the work as detailed in Appendix B:
Option 1 cost estimate £1,534 – based on focused consultation with specific stakeholders and affected user groups.
Option 2 cost estimate £2,850 – based on wider public consultation.
As outlined in the original report, the Officer Working Group recommend Option 1 but of course, confirmation from the Executive Committee is required as to which option to pursue.
2. Pebblebed Heaths Visitor Access Improvements – rationale for phased approach.
Aphased approach achieves a number of different objectives in terms of, preparation, implementation and communication:
· Allows prioritisation of works which encourage visitors towards car parks where habitats are more robust and away from more dispersed access points.
· Economies of scale can be achieved in terms of materials and labour.
· Tenders become more attractive due to the amount of expenditure.
· Proposed phasing of works would appeal to different sized contractors.
· Budget can be allocated without risking funding needed to ensure ongoing delivery of other projects.
· Phased improvements enable continued access to the heaths with as little disruption as possible.
· Works can be organised so as to provide significant improvements prior to any scheduled restrictions of access in other areas of the heaths.
· Planning applications can apply to whole phases rather than per proposal.
· Communication to visitors and other arrangements about the works can be more easily co-ordinated.
· A clear, phased communications plan can be implemented to inform the wider public about the works and act as a reminder for why they are needed.
The car parks in phases 2 and 3 changed slightly from that outlined in the July 2020 ABPin response to advice from Kim Strawbridge at PHCT regarding the car parks experiencing the highest impacts due to Covid-19 and increased visitor pressure.
Comments from the committee included:
· Clarification on the stakeholders who would be consulted on the Personal Aircraft Code – in response, a number of organisations were being identified by the officer working group to cover as wide a range as possible, including drone users. There was an expectation that, through consulting those groups, other niche groups would be identified, and the code promoted to them;
· The individual councils had their own work streams relating to drone policies for flying over authority owned land;
· Government guidance on this area was still awaited, and would be taken into account once known;
· The rationale for option one was agreed as the best option to undertake.
The clarification on the car park expenditure, taken in conjunction with the presentation on works under minute 107, was accepted by the Committee.
Cllr Wrigley, raised the outstanding element of resolution 3 of minute 94 of the previous meeting held on 17 May 2022 in regard to the Dawlish Warren BMP. He considered the best approach was for the committee to provide input into the current work of the Environment Agency in revising the Dawlish Warren BMP, because of the significant impact that would have on the areas. He was concerned that waiting until the EA had made a final decision was too late, leaving the only option to mitigate against the impact of their decision.
The Chair and Cllr Sutton fully understood the level of concern, but the remit of the committee did not provide them with any opportunity to comment at this stage, until the EA had provided their full findings from their review. The Principal Projects Manager confirmed that officers were in dialogue with the EA, but could not prepare a report to bring to the committee until the review findings were made available to them, and analysis was made to determine what mitigation was required. This would then be brought to the committee to agree adjustments to the measures in the Annual Business Plan. At that time, there was not sufficient information to report to the committee. The committee role relates to habitat mitigation, not commenting on the work that the EA is planning to undertake.
Each authority in their own right had the opportunity to engage with the EA to voice their concerns. The Chair briefly outlined discussion already ongoing in relation to Exmouth, Lympstone and Exton in that regard.
RESOLVED that the Executive Committee
1. agree to option 1, cost estimate £1,534 for promotion of the Exe Water User’s Code by means of focused consultation with specific stakeholders and affected groups;
2. approve funding for Phase 3 of the Pebblebed Heaths visitor access improvements at an estimated cost of £175,859.