Minutes of a meeting of the Northam Burrows Advisory Committee held in the Council Chamber, Windmill Lane, Northam on Thursday 9 th October 2008


PRESENT: Chairman - Cllr R W A Miller

Members - Mrs S Collins, A Eastman, C K Langton, R H Osborne, R Tisdale

District Council - Mr S Corin, Mr R Webster, Mrs R Staddon

1716 Committee - Mrs M Tucker

Graziers - Miss S Jobson Scott, Mr P Withecombe

Mr Paul McNie - Environment Agency

Mr Justin Gillett - Natural England

Together with 3 Parishioners

Apologies were recorded on behalf of the Golf Club

1. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting of the Northam Burrows Advisory Committee held 10 th June 2008 were approved and signed.

(Vote: Unanimous)

2. Possible entrainment of the Pill flows at Bassett's Bridge and any implications for the SWW overflow at Goosey Pool.

The Chairman, Cllr Miller, and Mr McNie reported on the site meeting held at Northam Burrows. Mr McNie advised that he needed to undertake some investigation works with regard to the large pipe that discharges into Skern and that he would be reporting back later in the year.

3. Natural England latest report .

Mr Gillett on behalf of Natural England advised the Members on the conclusion of the latest report on the assessment of vegetation condition and grazing impact on the Burrows. The conclusions were mixed with a higher mean sward height in some areas but the fixed dune grassland continues to have a low and uniform sward height. He thought the condition of the Burrows was moving in a positive direction and they wished to look at the grazing pressure during the early part of the season.

Miss Jobson-Scott advised that ponies are unable to graze because there is too much grass and Mrs Tucker supported this view that there is too much grass for the average moorland pony.

Mr Gillett advised that cattle grazing would benefit the site and he went on to give a brief outline of the higher level management scheme that Natural England operate. This would result in payments to the agreement holder and lead to positive environmental management. There was general agreement that this scheme should be further investigated and Mr Gillett undertook to provide more information.

Mrs Tucker raised concern that ragwort, brambles and thistles were out of control. Mr Gillett indicated that the higher-level scheme would allow finance to be provided to tackle these problems.

4. Sheep identification and Stocking levels

Mr S Corin, the Senior Ranger, advised that he had problems identifying sheep and ponies. It was agreed that the registration details would be copied to Miss Jobson-Scott and the Senior Ranger and Mr Withecombe undertook to supply details of the sheep tags.

5. Items from District Council

The Senior Ranger reported that there were problems with the horses escaping from the Burrows due to the stock gate being left open. It was agreed that these need to be locked and Northam Town Council to consider funding the necessary chains and padlocks. It was thought that a combination padlock would be the simplest solution with stockholders being advised of the combination number.

Mr Corin also advised that the cattle grid at the Appledore Gate was to be replaced which would result in the entry being closed for a couple of weeks.

6. Items from Graziers

Miss Jobson-Scott reported on the problems of ragwort on the Burrows and she proposed that all the graziers and other interested people get together on a suitable date and have a ragwort pulling session. This was agreed.

She also advised on problems with the ditches and that a bridge was required. It was agreed to consider this matter further in time for the next meeting.

7. Items from 1716 Committee

Mrs Tucker made reference to the Northam Burrows being included in the Biosphere designation and her concerns that the landfill site could well ruin the estuary. Mr Webster reported that the investigation report was due at the end of the month.

The meeting thanked Mr Gillett and Mr McNie for attending.