Landowners within the upper Exe catchment are cordially invited to attend the launch of a new project taking place on Exmoor.

The launch of the Headwaters of the Exe project will take place at Zeal Farm, Hawkridge, by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Andrew Pugsley, on Friday 22nd January 2016. The project is funded by South West Water, through their Upstream Thinking programme for 2015-2020, and by Exmoor National Park Authority. The aim of the project is to improve water quality within the upper Exe catchment through a varied programme of work, which includes farm advice and capital grants.

The project will be launched by Stanley Johnson (former MEP, author, journalist, local landowner and conservationist). The launch event will start at 11am and will involve a series of brief presentations, followed by lunch and an optional walk to the river.

The Headwaters of the Exe project is working with farmers and land managers to ensure good water quality in the catchment of the River Exe. It is part of South West Water’s Upstream Thinking programme.

The project will run from 2015 to 2020 and is funded by South West Water and the Exmoor National Park Authority. It covers an area of 27,559 hectares and includes the upper Exe, the Rivers Barle, Quarme, Pulham, Haddeo and smaller tributaries, as well as Wimbleball Reservoir.

The programme will deliver a range of work, including:

• Advice to farmers, foresters and game shoot managers;

• A capital grant fund;

• Training events, site visits and demonstrations to promote good practice;

• Rights of way maintenance to reduce erosion and run-off in high risk areas;

• Monitoring to identify any localised water quality issues relating to sewerage; and

• Control of invasive species.

Farming

The programme of support for farmers will consist of advice, training and events. Specialist advisers from FWAG SW are available to carry out free farm advisory visits to 50 farms in high priority parts of the catchment and provide confidential reports. Farmers wishing to take up the advice will also be eligible for a capital grant of up to £2,500 to carry out work on the farm to help protect water quality. For further advice please contact Adam Lockyear, FWAG SW, on 01823 660684 or adam.lockyear@fwagsw.org.uk.

Forestry

There is a programme of support for woodland owners and managers, including events, advice and capital grants. Woodland creation will be encouraged in appropriate parts of the catchment.

Exmoor National Park Authority’s specialist woodland officers can provide free advice – please contact James Mason, ENPA’s Woodland Development Officer, on 01398 322275 or 2jmason@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk.

Game Shoots

The catchment is a premier game shoot location, which is vitally important to the local economy. The project is able to offer capital grants and advice to shoot owners and managers for improvements to water management.

Access

The widespread network of public rights of way, permitted paths and open access land are an important asset for Exmoor. However surveys have shown that silt and mud can rapidly enter rivers and streams from these tracks and paths. A programme of work is being carried out by Exmoor National Park Authority focussing on those paths which have the highest risk of erosion and run-off affecting watercourses.

Sewerage

Localised monitoring is being carried out to collect data relating to sewerage, particularly around discharge points for the smaller sewage treatment works. This monitoring will be undertaken by volunteers through the Riverfly Partnership / River Exe and Tributaries Association and will provide an evidence base for action under any future funding programmes.

Ecology

The catchment includes the River Barle Site of Special Scientific Interest, parts of which are assessed as being in “unfavourable condition”, partly because of the presence of non-native invasive species including Japanese knotweed, Montbretia, Himalayan balsam and signal crayfish. The programme is supporting the control of non-native invasive species in the Exe catchment through existing partnership projects.

For more information contact Bea Davis, Programme Manager (Headwaters of the Exe), on 01398 322278, 07970 099136 or BDavis@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

Katherine Williams, Exmoor Hill Farming Network Officer, on 01643 841455, 07970 795808 or KWilliams@northdevonplus.co.uk. Or visit our webpage at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/headwaters