MP for East Devon Simon Jupp writes for this title.

On Friday, I joined Environment Minister Rebecca Pow MP to visit the Lower Otter Restoration Project in Budleigh Salterton. It is a huge multi-million-pound investment into nature recovery in East Devon.

Not only does it improve the natural flood defences of the River Otter, but it also involves planting hundreds of trees to help restore local habitats and encourage greater biodiversity in the area.

Now, 90ha of wetland in the lower Otter Vazalley has been included as part of The Pebblebed Heaths National Nature Reserve. Being a National Nature Reserve means the wetlands benefit from the highest level of conservation protection available under UK legislation.

The wetlands are important for rare wetland birds, particularly waders including the oystercatcher, curlew, godwits, avocet, and plovers. Beaver and otter populations exist on the River Otter and the estuary supports populations of sea trout, Atlantic salmon and European eel. Fish and other wildlife can move between the Pebblebed Heaths – the source of four tributaries of the River Otter – and the sea, via the wetlands.

Please visit our new National Nature Reserve if you can.

On a different note, I really enjoyed the community Q&A organised by Newton Poppleford and Harpford Parish Council and chaired brilliantly by Cllr Susan Tribble. Not every party has selected a candidate to stand in the new Honiton & Sidmouth constituency and I will relish the opportunity to attend future hustings in the general election campaign period, by which time every candidate has been selected.

Since I was elected in 2019, I have successfully secured a new school to replace Tipton St John Primary, £15.7m from the Levelling Up Fund, a new police station for Exmouth, and a banking hub for Sidmouth, which is being fitted out as I type. I have also set up a dedicated local office that is open to the public and have held surgeries across the constituency, making it easier for residents to speak to me for advice and help.

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