Why are changes needed?
The Heaths are popular for a variety of activities including walking, cycling and horse riding. 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.
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. Detailed research leading to an advisory report[link] clearly makes the case for these precautions, therefore South East Devon Habitat Regulations Partnership (SEDHRP) will fund improvements to make it an easier and safer place for people to enjoy.
What are the main changes?
The proposals include suggestions to install extra dog waste bins, new signs showing trail maps and changes to the layout of car parks to make them easier and safer to use, prevent erosion and protect historic features and the landscape.
What makes the heaths special?
The Pebblebed Heaths are well known as important recreation spaces for local people and have a long cultural history with many nationally protected historic features. The heaths are also incredibly rich in natural history and have international, legal designations which highlight the importance, rarity and vulnerability of the wildlife which call the Heaths “home”.
Will I have to pay for parking?
There are no proposals to introduce parking charges. However, donations to EDPHCT for maintenance are welcome.
Will there be less parking space?
Overall, there is no loss of parking spaces across the Pebblebed Heaths. Spaces are being spread across the site to make more efficient use of the available space.
Are you putting in more dog waste bins?
Extra dog bins will be installed at key locations. They will only ever be in car parks or at key access points – never on the heathland itself. This protects the character of the landscape and enables contractors to empty the bins.
Will you be tarmacking the car parks?
The surface of the car parks will be improved but will not be tarmacked except in the entrances. The car parks fall within the SSSI designated area, so local materials will be used to keep the character of the site. Drainage will be improved and the layout will be designed to limit wear and tear, which leads to issues such as potholes.
I find it difficult to find my way round, will you give us more information?
Yes. There are proposals to put name signs at car parks so that people know where they are. To help people make the most of their visit to the heaths, proposals suggest new information boards with improved maps and facts about the special nature of the site. The signs will help people access the area responsibly by explaining activities which are not permitted.
Are you creating a visitor centre or attraction?
No, there are no proposals for a visitor centre, which may attract extra visitors. These proposals accommodate a growing population in the local area. The proposals aim to improve the visitor experience for visitors while retaining the character of the heaths. We do not propose to open any new car parks at this time.
Are you installing toilets?
There are no proposals to install toilets.
What are you doing to protect historic features?
All historic features have been considered as part of the improvements. Some features are currently at risk of damage so specific measures are proposed, particularly for Woodbury Castle and the barrow at Model Airfield car park.
Who is paying for this?
SEDHRP has paid for independent research to inform an advisory report to protect the Pebblebed Heaths. SEDHRP is paying for the public consultation and will pay for any agreed capital works. East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust (EDPHCT) will pay for ongoing maintenance, once the upgrades have been completed. It is likely that any approved works will happen in phases and take place over a number of years.
What happens next?
From 23 September–4 November, a public consultation was carried out, gathering views about the proposals. All these views will be taken into account as the results are analysed in November. A final report including all feedback will be compiled by SEDHRP and presented to the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee for a decision next year.
What difference will my comments make?
All views will be taken into account before recommendations are put to the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee and EDPHCT for a decision next year.