Visitor advisory access report background

Respective Local Plans identify a requirement to build over 30,000 new homes within the East Devon, Exeter and Teignbridge districts by 2030. This level of growth has implications for recreation sites in the area, with significant increases in visitor pressure expected. The protection of the rare and vulnerable wildlife found on the heaths is a legal obligation and we want to keep the heaths special for future generations to enjoy.

The South East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee (SEDHREC) consists of one executive member from the councils of East Devon, Exeter and Teignbridge, with Natural England in an observing role. Their remit is to implement the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Visitor Management Plan (VMP) and wider South East Devon European Sites Mitigation Strategy. South East Devon Habitat Regulations Partnership (SEDHRP) is the term used to encompass the group of organisations working together to advise SEDHREC.

The VMP was developed to provide a framework for delivery of mitigation for the Pebblebed Heaths to ensure they can cope with increased levels of recreation in the future, and to give confidence that the expected growth will not result in adverse impacts on designated features.

The Heaths are popular for a variety of activities including walking, cycling and horse riding. The VMP estimates 400,000+ visits are made annually by local people, mostly travelling to the Heaths by car. With a growing population, it is important to balance these activities with the needs of wildlife and habitats on this globally significant environmental conservation site.

Leading on from the VMP, SEDHRP commissioned an advisory report to identify ways to improve visitor experiences and access to the heaths at the same time as protecting vulnerable wildlife.