To receive a report from the Public Rights of Way and Country Parks Manager (DCC) informing Members of the work that has taken place to date.
Consideration was given to a report * of the Public Rights of Way and Country Parks Manager.
Play Park opening
All agreed that this had proved to be a great success and it had brought a lot of life to the Canal Basin.
The Canal Ranger Team had spent on average 4 days a week operating the weed boat. They had been able to remove most of the water soldier but there would always be some plants that slipped through. Boat owners had reported an improvement.
Green Flag Award
The park had achieved its highest award following a visit by the judges for a full day. The Canal Manager thanked Mr Philip Brind for spending time with the judges on the day.
Dogs on leads in the Canal Basin
Mr Philip Brind explained that following the new rule requiring dogs to be kept on leads in the Canal Basin this had completely changed this area of the canal. Dog fouling was no longer seen and people were staying for longer period. He felt that this had seriously changed the Basin for the good.
Mowing and Strimming
This was the biggest bulk of the Canal Ranger Team’s work but it contributed the most.
Some leaks had been straight forward to repair and some had not.
At the time of the 2012 Breach, various leaks were discovered when the canal was drained to effect the major repair. One was sealed by the contractors undertaking the breach repairs. Recently, in order to provide a more effective seal here, a 10m section of bank was dug back and rebuilt using 16 tonnes of clay before being covered over again with soil.
A leak beside the aqueduct had led to a pool of water filling the cutting below the structure throughout the summer. A leak had been traced in the offside wall, however once water had found a way through it was difficult to seal with clay. The leak on that side had been stopped but there was now a leak on the opposite side. DCC Bridges and Structures engineers were due to undertake a principal inspection of the aqueduct at the end of September and their recommendations were awaited, it seemed likely that some form of relining would be required.
A question was asked as to whether the aqueduct was listed. It was explained that it was not but the engineers had stated that it could be justified as a ‘Brunel structure’ and that listing may take place at a later date.
Most recently a leak beside Swing Bridge had been traced and identified as a possible cause of water rising beside properties on the High Street in Halberton. Working with South West Water the team were working hard to find and repair the leak so that properties were protected. It was further explained that the leaks had possibly been caused by the dry weather over the summer but could also be related to the Breach event. Repairing the leaks had understandably been given a high priority but it was also proving to be very costly financially.
Boehill slipway track / boat trailer storage
This work had been funded by developer contributions from the Tiverton EUE and was part of a wider scheme to improve pedestrian access between Sampford Peverell, Tiverton Parkway and the Canal. A new boat trailer storage area was also being created in the field halfway along the track. It was confirmed that users of the boat storage area would be issued with a padlock combination when they bought a permit from Minnows.
Several posts and rails of the previous enclosure were rotting and so a new, more robust enclosure had been built in its place. Mr Philip Brind commented that the new enclosure had a four bar rest which provided more protection for the horses and public.
Although this had been slightly behind schedule a draft of the new management plan had been posted on line for the JAC to comment upon. This would be presented to the JAC at the next meeting for approval.
Two large trees that had fallen into the canal had been winched out and dismantled. There were also plans to clear some trees suffering from ash die back. DCC had a fund for dealing with ash die back.
Proposed housing developments near the Canal
The Canal Manager had been involved in a number of consultations and discussions relating to proposed housing developments in the vicinity of the Canal. With the proposal for 60 houses in Sampford Peverell the issue had been drainage from the development to the Canal. With another emerging proposal for significant housing development around Tidcombe Hall and Little Tidcombe, the issues had also been drainage and safe access from the development to the towpath and the primary school (possibly via a new bridge).
Funding had been provided for an Apprentice Ranger at Stover Country Park and the Grand Western Canal Country Park. An appointment had been made and following some final checks the new Apprentice would probably be working at the Canal 1-2 days a week.
Association of Inland Navigation Authorities (AINA) workshops
The JAC thanked the Canal Manager for the careful management of the water levels during the long hot summer. He explained that a large part of this had been due to the previous wet winter.
JAC site visit
The Canal visit had begun with a tour around the Canal Basin and had then moved on to Crownhill where they had been given a tour of the Anaerobic Digester.
Mr Peter Saupe, declaring a personal interest as he worked at the plant, stated that money was being spent to improve public perception, make the plant quieter and provide more screening for the long-term benefit of the local community.
The new style memorial seats had proved popular, others were planned.
It was confirmed that the new style seat with a plaque currently cost £698 and that the benches the Ranger Team constructed themselves cost £350.
A large number of events, walks and talks had taken place since the last meeting. Bat walks had been particularly well attended and the stand-up paddle boarding had also been popular.
The Canal Manager and his team were congratulated for providing events where children and the schools got involved as these were the next generation and involving them at a young age was vital.
Future programme of practical works and management projects to be progressed.
The Canal Manager highlighted the high priority projects to be progressed.
A brief discussion took place regarding the impact of badgers on the Canal. The Canal Manager explained that he had taken advice and generally the approach was to monitor the situation. They had done what they could by installing steel rods preventing them from gaining access into the water. The difficulty they had was that the badgers were an urban population without a secondary set. A previous application to have the badgers removed had been rejected and the County Council had to comply with the law in this area and continuing to monitor the situation was all that could be done at the moment.
Note: * Report previously circulated; copy attached to the signed minutes