Councils to decide on Exe Estuary wildlife refuges

PUBLISHED: 15:06 17 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:24 17 October 2017

Wildlife refuges are proposed for the Exe Estuary.

Wildlife refuges are proposed for the Exe Estuary.

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Final proposals for new wildlife areas to be created on the Exe Estuary have been revealed.

The planned wildlife refuges, which have been altered during a nine month consultation, have been designed to make sure protected birds are undisturbed and have safe places to rest and feed.

Estuary users will be asked to voluntarily avoid the areas – all year round for a refuge at Dawlish Warren, and from mid-September to the end of December for a refuge at Exmouth.

The Exmouth refuge covers an area on the east side of the River Exe, running from a point west of Exmouth Leisure Centre up to a point west of Lympstone Manor.

The proposed refuges are part of the Exe Estuary Special Protection Area, which regularly provides space for 20,000 birds to rest and feed.

East Devon District Council, Teignbridge District Council and Exeter City Council must legally prevent disturbance to birds and deterioration of their habitats.

The report proposing the refuges, which will go before the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee on Monday, October 23, states there is clear evidence this is already happening, and that with increasing risk, further precautions are legally required.

Committee chairman and Exeter City Councillor Daniel Gottschalk said: “Thank you to everyone who has got involved and helped develop these safe areas for birds to rest and feed in a very small part of the Exe Estuary.

“Some birds will have travelled thousands of miles before coming to rest in the Exe Estuary. Disturbance caused to the birds can be life threatening because they use scarce energy which can reduce their ability to survive.

“Following an extensive nine month consultation, all the views from both consultation phases, including concerns about safety, have been taken into account in developing these areas.

“Substantial changes and compromises have been incorporated into the new recommendations for the wildlife refuges.

“The estuary will face growing pressure in the future, as councils provide much needed homes for local people. This will bring a predicted increase of 27 per cent from household visits within a 10km radius and a 29 per cent increase in housing in the same area.”

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