Contact: Sarah Lees Member Services Officer
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from:
· Peter Burgess
· Cllr Les Cruwys
· Cllr David Cutts
· Cllr Andrea Davis
· Dion Howells
· Graham Moore
Public Question Time
To receive any questions relating to items on the agenda from the public and replies thereto.
Mr Nick Govier asked the following questions in relation to item 7 on the agenda, Bycott Farm:
My name is Nick Govier and
the purpose of my question this evening relates to the planning
application for an Anaerobic Digester at Bycott Farm in Halberton
which is to be discussed as part of this meeting agenda.
Members to consider whether to approve the minutes as a correct record of the meeting held on 4th October 2022.
The minutes from the meeting held on 4 October 2022, having been previously circulated, were approved as a correct record.
To consider any matters arising from the minutes of the last meeting.
There were no matters raised in relation to the minutes of the previous meeting:
Chairman's Announcements (00:06:00)
To receive any announcements that the Chairman may wish to make.
The Chairman stated that he had recently been very impressed by the condition of the towpath, being free from debris, dry and easy to walk on. He wished to thank the Canal Ranger team.
To receive a report summarising the work that has taken place with regard to the canal since the last meeting.
The Committee had before it, and NOTED, a report * from the Country Park Manager summarising the work that had taken place on the Canal since the last meeting. A brief discussion took place regarding the following issues:
Community Safety Accreditation Scheme
Training events would be held over two dates in April. The Canal Ranger Service’s CSAS accreditation would then be publicised in early May.
New noticeboards and A2 information panels
The Canal Manager thanked the Inland Waterways Association for providing some recent funding towards new notice boards.
Warnicombe Bridge ‘bypass’
Mr Brind thanked the Canal Ranger team for the ‘bypass’ at Warnicombe Bridge as it had become the highest risk location with regard to cyclists colliding with the horse.
Fenacre water transfer system
The Public Rights of Way and Country Parks Manager (DCC) provided an update stating that the County’s Chief Planner is liaising with Aggregate Industries on this matter, and also consulting with the County’s Legal Team to ascertain what enforcement options might be feasible. The Chairman requested that he be kept updated so that he would be able to report back to the Committee.
Mrs Brind thanked the team for the work they had done beside the boat moorings.
It was reported that students from Blundell’s School had helped to plant a section of new hedging the previous day, as part of their Community Partnership field day
Bird and Bat boxes
Another 20 boxes had been built with the help of Blundell’s students.
Ducks Ditty electricity box
Mr Brind thanked Devon County Council for their help with the recent replacement.
Preparations had begun on slurry sealing Canal Basin paths and would recommence later in the month once the weather allows.
It is intended that a dog walking code be drawn up in order to address some of the recent issues where dogs had been attacking wildlife. Work would commence on this during the spring.
Note: * Report previously circulated.
To discuss whether the Committee, as an official consultee, should make a representation regarding this application.
The Chairman referred to the letter from the Conservation Officer that had been included as part of the agenda pack for the meeting. He reiterated the point that the Committee could only comment on the application if it was likely to impact the Canal. He made further reference to a number of emails which had been circulated from members of the public who were in objection showing the landscape with a superimposed picture of the proposed digester plant.
Mr Pilgrim, who usually had the responsibility of drawing up planning representations on behalf of the Committee, stated that initially he had considered the visual impact to be minimal, affecting only small sections of the canal towpath and that the digester would appear as an extra part of the farm buildings. However, he was willing to revise this on the basis of feedback from the meeting and the conservation officer report.
Consideration was given to:
· The Highways Planning Officer had requested a second traffic appraisal but it was not for the Committee to comment on this.
· The height of the proposed digester plant being commensurate with the height of the church tower in Halberton.
· The large number of emails circulating from objectors and the strong depth of feeling locally.
· Concerns with the effect on the water quality of the canal.
· Potential structural damage to bridges with the transportation of equipment in relation to the proposed site.
· Concerns regarding the size of the proposed structure.
It was AGREED that the Joint Advisory Committee make a formal representation as an official consultee opposing this application.
Note: (i) Cllrs Mrs C Collis and R F Radford declared personal interests in that they were members of the Planning Committee at Mid Devon District Council and did not want to be seen as pre-judging the application. They both therefore refrained from comment.
(ii) Cllrs Mrs C Collis and R F Radford requested that their abstention from voting be recorded.
Coronation events (00:33:00)
To discuss whether there are any events planned along the Canal to celebrate the Coronation weekend.
Cllr Mrs S Griggs had requested that this item be placed on the agenda for further discussion.
The Canal Manager explained that nothing had been planned thus far. He did not have the capacity within his team to undertake the planning of an event but he would be happy to host if somebody else wanted to run something.
The Chairman stated that there were a lot of other Coronation events happening locally and that their planning was already underway. It was likely that it had been left too late now.
Any other business
To consider any other relevant business.
The following issues were discussed under this item:
Illegal fish removal from the canal
People had recently been seen at night with torches casting their nets and taking fish out of the canal. This was not acceptable and was actually illegal. A reporting process was needed that allowed people to notify the relevant people if they witnessed this sort of activity and did not want to approach the wrongdoers themselves. Technically this was a Police matter as it would be classed as theft. It was suggested that the Canal Ranger team in liaison with the angling club design a flyer to give to properties adjacent to the canal providing them with more information about how to report any incidents should they witness them. The canal team could also use links to the police service established through the CSAS accreditation process to emphasise the importance of police responding to any reported fish thefts.
More needed to be done to alert and attract tourists to the canal and the horse drawn barge. The Public Rights of Way and Country Parks Manager (DCC) stated the relevant DCC highways team had advised that pictorial signs were only permitted on the boundary of relevant premises, and that brown signs were the most appropriate option for wayfinding. These are already present close to the suggested location, but he would talk to the necessary people to find out what options were available in relation to improvements to the brown tourist signs such as placing a horse and/or a boat on them directing people to the canal.
Mr Brind reiterated the fact that the horse drawn barge was one of the last in the country and that a shire horse could be shown on the brown signage.
Identification of items for the next meeting (00:50:00)
To identify any issues for discussion at the next meeting.
It was requested that an update on the situation with Aggregate Industries come to the next meeting and that a standing item be included on every JAC meeting agenda going forwards. Cllr Worrow also stated that he would bring it to the attention of Burlescombe Parish Council which may be able to promote the need for progress on this issue during its regular liaison meetings with Aggregate Industries, and that he would report back through the JAC Chairman.
Date of next meeting (00:52:00)
To agree the date of the next meeting as Tuesday 3rd October 2023 at 7pm.
The date of the next meeting was AGREED as Tuesday 3rd October 2023 at 7pm.