From: Ashprington Parish Council | 2 November 2018
To: Adam Davison, AONB Staff Unit (via email)
South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan Review – Comments from Ashprington Parish Council
Many thanks for the opportunity to comment on the Draft AONB Management Plan. Overall we found the document most useful, well structured and extremely comprehensive. Our particular comments are:
Increased vehicle size and volume. We, and to our certain knowledge many other South Hams’ Parishes, are becoming concerned about the increasing volume of ever-larger and heavier vehicles travelling along our lanes, so it is good to see this concern mentioned in Theme 10, Transport & Highway, under “Trans/P5 Large vehicles”. Increasingly we meet lorries that are just too big to travel without causing damage to road edges and old dry stone walls, and we are experiencing ever-more, temporary, lane blockages while articulated lorry drivers work out how to turn around, or while farm tractors help pull heavy bulk grain transports up some of the steep hills! These events affect the day-to-day activities of both locals and our visitors, and will begin to affect perceptions and experience of South Devon if not addressed somehow. In the same vein we feel there is benefit in seeking increased recognition for our old stone bridges, an iconic landscape feature worthy of attention and protection in their own right. Perhaps these bridges could become embedded within Theme 4, Historic Environment, under “Hist/P4 Statutory Protection” or, a more 21st century approach, the subject of an iPhone “App” where people travel the AONB ‘collecting’ the bridges and photographing them as a part of an awareness-raising citizen science project?! Addressing the issue of oversized vehicles requires buy-in from the widest community, including consideration of the road network limitations when residents purchase online or within delivery and haulage companies who are using the lanes within the AONB. As discussed , in addition to education on this issue perhaps achieving some form of software adjustment to GPS systems, to highlight constricted lanes, may prove a useful way ahead? From talking to them we also have clear evidence that some lorry drivers, mainly from overseas, do not understand the “Unsuitable for HGVs” signs, so improved signage should also be part of a solution; perhaps pictorial signs of a lorry with a red line through it? It is recognised that encouraging smaller haulage or delivery vehicles might increase costs, particularly for builders or farmers moving large volumes, though this cost increase surely does not outweigh the costs of getting stuck, nor of repairs to our historic landscape features.
Light Spill / Pollution. Very sensibly and in-line with Building Regulations much new build or renovation housing work incorporates greater access to natural light through large ‘picture windows’ or roof lights: regrettably these are frequently installed without blinds or curtains. In addition, and unsurprising due to the rise in rural crime, there has been a significant increase in area-type security lights on farms and industrial buildings, sometimes using the blue-spectrum LED bulbs (great for reducing energy consumption!) increasingly found in car headlights which have far greater levels of light scatter. Collectively this increased light spill, which often originates from outside of the AONB boundaries, is having an impact on dark skies, serenity and wildlife within the AONB. So while the comment in Theme 1 – Landscape Character, Lan / P5 mentions “external lighting”, we recommend the addition of “and internal light spill” to cover the growing issue of light spill from dwellings. In addition perhaps a stronger statement in the open text of Theme 9 – Planning to cover internal, as well as external, light pollution would strengthen the message? Similarly this issue could also be strengthened in the AONB Planning Guidance. Police views on the relative ineffectiveness of permanent area lighting in preventing or reducing crime might help the cause.
Challenges in implementing the Plan. The issue around reducing resources across many partner organisations, raised in Theme 14 – Management, Organisation and Partnerships, is important. Ideally the AONB Management Unit would have oversight of all AONB planning applications, not just larger developments, but it is recognised that this is just not feasible. Progress towards recognised ‘value’ – not necessarily financial – for “Natural Capital” should also provide significant support in future, so pursuing this should remain a high priority task. Parish Councils like ours, though often inexpert, will do our best to support, so please ask if you need it.
Drafted by Mike S Pearey
Parish Councillor lead for Environment
This response has the unanimous support of the Parish Council.
Chair, Ashprington Parish Council
Meeting M Pearey/AONB staff, Follaton House, 6 Sept 18