Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Pressures to expand the Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks >>> deadline to comment: Friday 2nd February >>> and further reports...

Some District Councillors and businesses are keen to allow the expansion of industrial estates in the District:
Futures Forum: Pressures to expand the Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks >>> deadline to comment: Friday 2nd February

Local residents feel rather differently - and this substantial piece from the Woodbury Salterton Residents Association from last year is complete with the history of these estates:
response 16 2597 ful greendale eastern extension | Flood | Surface Runoff

And this piece from the Western Morning News from last month points out a few things:

The Villages Plan also includes maps of the Greendale and Hill Barton business parks to show the extent of land authorised for business purposes.

The plan has undergone several rounds of consultation, giving people plenty of opportunity to have their say on it and East Devon District Council is asking the public for its views on proposed changes to its Villages Plan by Friday, February 2, 2018.

The modifications include additional policies that clearly link the maps shown in the Villages Plan back to the policies of the East Devon Local Plan, which was adopted in January 2015. This includes specific policies for Hill Barton and Greendale Business Parks.

These policies generally resist development in the ‘countryside’, except in specific circumstances as set out in the Local Plan.

Outside the black line, further development would only be acceptable in special circumstances.
These 14 Devon towns and villages are set to expand - and here's the latest plans - Devon Live

In other words, these two large industrial estates are being classified as 'villages' and as such no expansion beyond their current 'black lines' would be acceptable.

There is considerable disquiet in some quarters, as reported by the East Devon Watch blog:
EDDC councillor desperately tries to justify expansion of Greendale and Hill Barton – going against Village Built Up Area requirements | East Devon Watch

Open spaces under threat

Some five years ago, there was a kerfuffle around what to call bits of green space in the Sid Valley: if there is 'too much' public park land designated in an area - well, it can be got rid of:
Futures Forum: Knowle: the Byes and when a 'meadow' is a 'park'...

Ultimately, it's all about 'assets' - who they belong to and whether they can be stripped to bring in a little desperately needed cash:
Futures Forum: Community Assets
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: an application to list Knowle park as an Asset of Community Value: rejected by District Council

As proposed at a recent District Council meeting:


14 JAN 2018

Owl says: health benefits of public open spaces? Pah! Flog ‘em, flog ‘em!

“ Corporate Green Space policy 1 –

Survey, plot and categorise all council managed green/open space across the district (including housing land, and allotment sites)

assess sites based on a range of criteria including:

strategic importance,
alternative or additional use,
levels of use, amenity value,
ability to protect our outstanding environment and cost.

Identify which sites are suitable for retention, community transfer or disposal taking into account our corporate policies, our Local Plan and open space study.


Green spaces – use them or possibly see them flogged off | East Devon Watch

Or they could be rented out of course for a bit:
EDDC: “More open spaces to be closed for private events, say council” | East Devon Watch
Exmouth beaches and parks could be rented out privately | Latest Exmouth News - Exmouth Journal

Of course, the Knowle is currently rented out for events:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: a very nice place to hold a celebration

But, then, open spaces are under threat everywhere, whether abroad:
Sydney's open spaces under threat - Sydney Morning Heraldt
Bay Area Open Space Under Threat by Sprawl, Study Warns | Greenbelt Alliance
Under threat: Hyderabad huffs and puffs as open spaces keep on shrinking | Hyderabad News - Times of India
Public open spaces in Nairobi City, Kenya, under threat - Kenyatta University

Or at home:
56 Green spaces in London under threat from development | London Live
London parks under threat | Open Spaces Society
Clapham Common under threat | Open Spaces Society
Residents have 48 hours to save 70 parks and open spaces | Inside Croydon

And some of the ways into open spaces are quite sinister:
Futures Forum: Pseudo-public space

Climate change: trees, flooding and rising sea levels

Yesterday in Sidmouth saw two related events take place.

One on trees in the Sid Valley - where the relationship between a changing climate and trees was discussed:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Arboretum AGM > Tuesday 16th January > guest speaker Dame Julia Slingo, former Met Office chief scientist

The other on the potential for flooding and rising sea levels on the Sidmouth seafront:

Managing the Impacts of Rising Sea Levels

Led by Hamish Hall, Director with WSP 

With the Institute of Civil Engineers, South West

Hamish is Head of WSP's UK Water Specialisms team, based in Exeter. He is a Chartered Civil Engineer with over 25 years’ professional experience. Mr Hall's main interests lie in coastal management, waterside & harbour development, river engineering and climate change adaptation. He has worked extensively across the UK and abroad.

Cafe Scientifique: Managing the Impacts of Rising Sea Levels | Sidmouth Science Festival

Which ties in with the still-ongoing BMP:
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: report from 10th January meeting

Meanwhile in the United States, these issues are coming together:
Climate change before your eyes: Seas rise and trees die - Technology & Science - CBC News
Fires, droughts and hurricanes: What's the link between climate change and natural disasters? - LA Times

With the debate still intensely politicised:
Forests destroyed in wildfires not recovering due to climate change, scientists reveal | The Independent
In a Warming California, a Future of More Fire - The New York Times
Why the California Wildfires Are Not Due to So-called Climate Change - New American

Although in a piece out today, the US military has no qualms taking climate change and all its consequences seriously:
A tale of two policies: climate change, Trump, and the U.S. military - Mongabay

Of course, engineers prefer engineering solutions - the bigger the better - whether in the UK or elsewhere:
Crunching Carbon | Ipswich Flood Barrier | Feature | New Civil Engineer

And of course the super-rich can always buy themselves out of any spot of bother - wherever that may be:
Dubai's new self-sufficient floating villas can withstand rising seas | Inhabitat - Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

But there might be a way to use trees and other 'green options' to help against flooding and rising sea levels:

Walls Won't Save Our Cities From Rising Seas. Here's What Will

'Green' approaches may be the best way to protect coastal communities from flooding associated with climate change.

by Joseph Bennington-Castro / Sep.19.2017 

Highway 80 in Georgia regularly floods during high tides. This flooding occurred after a storm in October 2015. Dronemedia.com

To some people, climate change seems like a problem only for future generations. But for residents of many coastal cities, the future is already here — in the form of rising sea levels and frequent, destructive floods. And the problem is only going to get worse. The latest research suggests that by 2100, up to 60 percent of oceanfront communities on the East and Gulf Coasts of the U.S. may experience chronic flooding from climate change.

The fix for inundation might seem pretty simple: just erect tall seawalls and other barriers to keep the ocean at bay. But barriers can fail. Even when they don’t, they can have the unintended consequence of harming delicate coastal habitats and the animals that live in them.

"Fundamentally, there is an issue with the concept of building walls to stop flooding," says Rachel Gittman, an environmental scientist and ecologist at East Carolina University. "We should not be thinking that we can stop every flood."

Surfers walk the sand in Solana Beach, Calif., in 2013, below a seawall which holds back the ocean and supports the hill side where homes sit precariously perched atop cliffs. Lenny Ignelzi / AP File

The good news? Walls aren’t the only option. Environmental scientists and engineers have devised a range of clever ways to prevent coastal flooding by sopping up water and limiting erosion and wave energy. And then there’s permeable pavement, which allows floodwaters to seep into the ground below rather than pool on the surface.

Many experts, Gittman included, are convinced that these and other “green” alternatives will hold the key to saving our coastal communities.


Seawalls, along with bulkheads (vertical walls that retain soil but provide little protection from waves) and revetments (sloping structures on banks and cliffs) have long been the go-to defenses against coastal flooding. Fourteen percent of all continental U.S. shoreline has been armored with these “hard” structures — and that number is rising. At the current rate, it’s estimated that nearly one-third of U.S. coastline will be armored by 2100.

But there are big problems with these bulwarks.

For one thing, instead of damping wave energy, these structures simply deflect it to adjacent areas. So if waves batter a seawall along one coastal property, their energy will be redirected to neighboring properties. That means these properties will experience wave energies even greater than would be experienced in the absence of seawalls.

And even carefully constructed barriers are prone to failure. This can happen, for example, when wave action erodes soil or sand at the base of a wall and causes it to collapse.

Then there is the environmental toll of armored shorelines. These barriers compromise delicate coastal habitats and reduce biodiversity.

"You end up losing the structural complexity that organisms like to use," Gittman says. "The wall is just a wall and it's not providing any habitat."

A better approach, Gittman says, is to create so-called “living shorelines.” The term encompasses various “soft” shore-protecting techniques and technologies involving mostly natural materials.

The components of a living shoreline are site-specific. For shores with relatively calm waters, the best bet is often a water-absorbing salt marsh, possibly fortified with sill-like ledges made of rocks, oyster shell bags, or “logs” made of coconut fiber. Alternatively, a shoreline may benefit from the planting of mangroves, which develop hardy root systems firmly anchored in mud.

 A bulkhead constructed directly adjacent to a natural marsh shoreline in Frisco, NC Northeastern University

"Building a living shoreline starts with a good understanding of what the natural condition along that shoreline once was," says Steven Scyphers, a coastal scientist at Northeastern University. He adds that the process of creating a living shoreline might be as straightforward as restoring what once existed at the site — whether it’s oyster reefs, coral reefs, or other living breakwaters that dissipate wave energy.

The newly protected shorelines become more stable over time as plants, roots, and reefs grow. This brings a number of benefits.

Salt marshes and mangroves trap sediment and organic matter, allowing them to grow in elevation. That affords rising protection against inundation. Similarly, the growth in height of oyster reefs can outpace sea level rise, allowing them to continue protecting shorelines well into the future. And according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, just 15 horizontal feet of marshy terrain can absorb 50 percent of incoming wave energy.

Direct comparisons between hard and soft defenses are hard to come by. But Gittman's research suggests that marshes are significantly better than bulkheads at protecting shorelines. In a survey of three coastal regions of North Carolina, Hurricane Irene damaged 76 percent of bulkheads. Shorelines protected by marshes sustained no damage.

Living shorelines aren't suitable for all situations, Gittman says, adding that protecting New York City from a powerful storm like Hurricane Sandy would have required establishing miles of natural habitat, like oyster reefs, to dissipate the big waves. But a mix of natural and artificial protections could work quite well in similar situations.

If a shoreline is already armored, Scyphers says, the structure could be augmented with natural components. The Alabama Nature Conservancy is doing just that along walled coastline areas, strengthening bulkheads with square wire cages. Over time, marsh plants will grow through the cages, creating a slope of plant matter that lessens wave impact against the wall.


If living shorelines can help keep coastal communities safe from water that from the sea, what about water that falls from the sky?

Aside from raising sea levels, warmer global temperatures are expected to increase the intensity and frequency of heavy downpours. That means more localized flooding (when rainfall overwhelms urban drainage systems) and riverine flooding (when river channels overflow their banks).

"If we had developed urban patterns differently, we wouldn't have these issues," says landscape architect and urban ecologist Alexander Felson, an assistant professor at the Yale University School of Forestry. "What we've done is we've put in a lot of impervious surfaces and blockage to the natural hydrology of the landscape."

Felson says green infrastructure can help mitigate the flooding that can arise when much of the ground in an area is covered by asphalt and other impervious surfaces. Like living shorelines, green infrastructure encompasses many systems, but all are basically natural designs that absorb rainwater and storm water, thus channeling it into the ground.

One simple type of green infrastructure is the rain garden — essentially a “bowl” of dirt measuring about 100 to 300 square feet in diameter — that’s been filled with soil (typically clay and sand), plants, and mulch. These small-scale designs collect storm water runoff from houses or small buildings so that it can evaporate or be absorbed by plants and returned to the atmosphere as water vapor (via a natural process known as evapotranspiration).

In some communities, it makes sense to create larger versions of rain gardens known as bio-retention gardens. Felson recently spearheaded a project to do just that in flood-prone parts of Bridgeport, Connecticut, on Long Island Sound.

"In our case, the site was a former wetland area that we filled, and we punched a hole through the clay layer to increase infiltration," he says. Periodically, the garden fills with rain and floodwater, turning into a full wetland that serves as habitat for wildlife. And that makes economic as well as ecological sense. As Felson says, "The cheapest thing you can do is restore natural drainage and create urban spaces that can flood."

To further boost a city's ability to handle large volumes of water, rain gardens, bio-retention gardens, and bioswales (sloped landscape features that channel water into vegetation-filled ditches) can be supplemented with other green 

A living shoreline (granite rock sill with salt marsh, both natural and planted) in front of a house on Bogue Banks in NC Northeastern University

Green roofs and green walls blanketed with vegetation can reduce the volume of storm water runoff from buildings. On the ground, concrete and other impervious surfaces can be replaced with a hard but porous surface. A new concrete product called Topmix Permeable can absorb water at a rate of about 880 gallons per minute. That means instead of pooling in parking lots and road surfaces, water infiltrates into the ground.

And, says Felson, “simply increasing the numbers of trees and canopies in a city increases evapotranspiration.”


Though they can be very effective at coping with excess water, living shorelines and green infrastructure enhancements don't address the root causes of coastal flooding — a problem that is especially severe in communities in Louisiana and Maryland.

"They are at the lowest and flattest parts of the coastal United States and also where the land is sinking," says Shana Udvardy, a Washington D.C.-based climate specialist with the Union of Concerned Scientists and co-author of a recent study on coastal flooding.

Climate change will only worsen the plight of these communities and similar ones in other parts of the country.

If global sea levels were to rise just one foot within the next 20 years (an "intermediate" scenario), the study showed, the number of chronically inundated communities would rise from 90 today to 170. More than 100 of these communities would see up to 25 percent of their livable land flooded.

By 2100, 490 communities would be chronically flooded under the intermediate scenario. Under the “high” scenario, where the sea level rises 6.5 feet, 670 communities would be chronically flooded. That includes Boston, Newark, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and all but one of the New York City’s five boroughs.

"The high scenario is increasingly plausible as the melting of ice sheets accelerates," Udvardy says, adding that communities will have to choose either to defend against flooding with walls, living shorelines, or green infrastructure; accommodate flooding by elevating houses and buildings; or retreat altogether from flood-prone areas.

But another option exists for protecting our cities from flooding: change our collective behavior to slow the rate of climate change.

If the world steeply cuts carbon emissions and warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, about 380 U.S. communities could be saved from chronic flooding in this century, Udvardy says. As she puts it, "When it comes right down to it, the best way to help coastal communities is to implement the Paris climate agreement and keep global warming down."

Walls Won't Save Our Cities From Rising Seas. Here's What Will

Meanwhile, deforestation is the biggest contributor to climate change:
Futures Forum: Climate change and trees: The destruction of forests around the world causes about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions... Achieving large-scale forestation is not just theoretical. We know we can do it because a few countries have done it successfully.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Sidmouth wins RHS South West in Bloom gold - following on from RHS Britain in Bloom gold for small coastal town

Sidmouth in Bloom has been incredibly successful, bringing prestige to the 'top small coastal town' in the UK:

Sidmouth in Bloom's Lynette Talbot and Sidmouth town councillor John Dyson receives the awartd from presenter Iolo Williams at the Britain in Bloom awards.

Sidmouth in Bloom wins big at Britain in Bloom competition 2017 | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

And once again, the Royal Horticultural Society has been handing out prizes to Sidmouth:

Sidmouth and Exmouth celebrate gold success at RHS South West in Bloom awards

PUBLISHED: 18:15 06 January 2018

South West in Bloom is one of eighteen regional/national competitions that make up Britain in Bloom, the biggest horticultural campaign in Europe. Communities that take part each year aim to improve and regenerate their local environments

Two East Devon seaside towns are celebrating recognition for horticultural excellence by winning prestigious regional awards. Sidmouth and Exmouth have both been awarded Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) South West in Bloom Gold awards. The accolades are the result of hard work by East Devon District Council’s StreetScene teams, Sidmouth and Exmouth’s town councils, local volunteers and businesses.
At the 2017 RHS South West in Bloom Awards, Sidmouth won Gold in the small coastal town category and also won the Sargents Cup for being the best nominee in this category. This award followed the town’s Gold in the 2016 South West Champions of Champions and several discretional awards for Best Business, Best Use of Indigenous Plants and Best Sea Side entry.
Sidmouth went on to further glory at the RHS Britain in Bloom National Awards by winning Gold and best in category for small coastal towns in the UK. This means that Sidmouth came top of the list for all small coastal towns in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands.
At the National Awards Sidmouth was also nominated to take part in the 2018 UK Champions of Champions together with five other class winners, from large villages to small cities.
Exmouth was also a Gold award winner in the small coastal town category of the RHS South West in Bloom Awards and was the recipient of the Michael McGahey trophy for outstanding community effort.
East Devon District Councillor Tom Wright said: “It has been an amazing year of horticultural achievements for Sidmouth and Exmouth. I am delighted that the hard work and dedication of our StreetScene teams, together with the town councils and volunteers of both towns has been recognised.”
Mr Wright said he hoped the achievement would bring ‘great prestige’ to Sidmouth and enhance the town’s heritage. 
He commended the ‘outstanding dedication and hard work’ of StreetScene teams, town councils, volunteers and businesses, in achieving the awards.

Sidmouth in Bloom is recognised for its horticultural success | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

The Return of the East Devon Business Forum >>> >>> or, "developing and maintaining a contact list of our top 50 employers"

There have been questions of late as to whether we are seeing 'the return of the EDBF':
Futures Forum: The Return of the East Devon Business Forum >>> >>> or, the ‘Greater Exeter Growth and Development Board'

Of course, businesses need representation and access to decision-makers - but it's always a question of how this is to happen and who is to have that access:
Futures Forum: Top-down regeneration in East Devon

And East Devon has to tread very carefully in the wake of its rather messy, if not rather sinister, former set-up:
Futures Forum: "The depressing truth is that corruption is endemic in Britain’s bureaucratic planning system" >>> >>> >>> >>> "The taint left by Graham Brown from March 2013 lingers in high circles, continuing to discredit East Devon District Council 5 years on."

The EDW blog comments on the latest proposal from the District Council:


14 JAN 2018

And just how will EDDC decide who are the top 50 employers? Turnover, number of employees, closeness to Woodbury or Otterton? Or big developers? Businesses submitting the most planning applications or biggest landholders? Or might it be social responsibility – lol? Environmental credentials – lol? Employee stakeholders – lol?

And how will they treat these “top 50 compared to the bottom several thousand?

Shades of the discredited, run by disgraced ex-councillor Graham Brown, East Devon Business Forum? And, here it comes again – scrutiny … conflicts of interest …

Owl ruffles its feathers …

“For the many or the few” to quote someone-or-other!

“Develop more effective business engagement though:

1) Publishing quarterly business bulletins and increasing SME readership;

2) Identifying and establishing communication with up to 6 Key Ambassador businesses in East Devon

3) developing and maintaining a contact list of our top 50 employers;

4) Identifying and making contact with businesses comprising our 4 GESP priority sectors (Smart Logistics, Data Analytics, Knowledge Based Industries and Environmental Futures).


A new East Devon Business Forum? | East Devon Watch

Brexit: and an energy interconnector between France and Budleigh Salterton

There have been concerns that energy projects might be shelved due to Brexit:

Vital energy projects including the £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant and interconnectors used to import cheap electricity from Europe are under threat due to Brexit, energy experts have warned. They said the projects, which are key to efforts to keep the UK’s lights on, could be at risk if the energy sector is denied entry to Europe’s internal energy market.

Futures Forum: Brexit: and the future of energy projects


Leadsom, who was in favour of leaving the EU, also said she did not believe anything would change for British energy policy following last week's vote and that nothing should change for interconnectors with the EU, which are run by companies that have commercial agreements.

Futures Forum: Brexit: and energy: nuclear, renewables and climate change

There's talk of an 'interconnector' between the UK and Iceland:
Futures Forum: The Ice Link interconnector from Iceland to the UK >>> "How much unspoiled nature should we preserve and what do we sacrifice for clean, renewable energy?"

And between the UK and the Continent:

Brexit will have no impact on project to link Budleigh Salterton to France

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has just approved a licence allowing the project to build and maintain the proposed subsea interconnector within UK waters

Daniel Clark

19:47, 9 JAN 2018

The team behind a project to link the British and French electricity grids is pushing ahead in spite of Brexit.

The 170-mile subsea and underground 1.4GW interconnector is due to make landfall in the UK at Budleigh Salterton in East Devon. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has just approved a licence allowing the project to build and maintain the proposed subsea interconnector within UK waters.

Plans go in for project to link Budleigh Salterton to France with an undersea cable

The FAB Project interconnector aims to increase energy security, cut consumers’ bills, and enable greater use of greener, low-carbon electricity.

A tidal turbine

Chris Jenner, the FAB Project development manager, said: “The FAB project team has worked closely with the MMO and their statutory advisors to ensure that the Marine Licence provides permission for the necessary construction and maintenance activities, together with appropriate safeguards to ensure that the FAB Project can proceed without any significant impacts on the marine environment.

“This decision is a reflection of the positive dialogue between the FAB Project and the various stakeholders who have an interest in the UK waters, particularly Lyme Bay and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site in East Devon."

The decision comes a few weeks after East Devon District Council gave planning permission for a section of the onshore cable route along the Otter Valley.

An undersea cable will be laid between the French and English coasts

What is the Fab project and why is it so important?

The Fab Project will link the national electricity grids of Britain and France with the aim of increasing energy security, cutting consumers' bills, and enabling greater use of greener, low-carbon electricity.

The subsea interconnector cables will be laid between the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy and Budleigh Salterton in Devon, via Alderney in the Channel Islands to provide a route to market for low-carbon electricity from proposed tidal generators.

From Budleigh Salterton, the 1,400 megawatt cables will be laid underground to the Long Lane converter station, where the High Voltage Direct Current which will be transmitted through the cables will be converted to High Voltage Alternating Current.

Further underground cables will then link the converter station to an existing National Grid substation near Broadclyst.

Brexit will have no impact on project to link Budleigh Salterton to France - Devon Live

Monday, 15 January 2018

A village arboretum

Sidmouth is certainly a first:

Sidmouth is the UK's first 'civic' arboretum: it encompasses the entire town rather than a separate single site. Established in 2010, the arboretum aims to maintain and enhance the area through tree planting and protection.

Sidmouth i-Tree Eco impact summary

And tomorrow it'll be hosting its AGM - with guest speaker Dame Julia Slingo, former Chief Scientist at the Met Office, now a patron of the Sidmouth Arboretum:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Arboretum AGM > Tuesday 16th January > guest speaker Dame Julia Slingo, former Met Office chief scientist

Meanwhile, there is another first - in the south of France:
Village arboretum de Vernet-les-Bains - Wikipedia

Découvrir le "Village Arboretum"

Village Arboretum | Vernet-les-Bains

After much restoration work, Vernet became the first “Village *Arboretum” in France with over 2,000 identified and listed trees in the village

Vernet les Bains - anglophone-direct