Independent East Devon Alliance councillor Geoff Jung seeks support for a (non-political) Jurassic National Park

Press release:

“A Jurassic National Park makes sense Says East Devon Councillor

East Devon’s new leader Cllr Ian Thomas has been contacted regarding Mr Michael Gove’s announcement that the government is considering creating new National Parks within the UK.

Cllr Geoff Jung who is Ward Councillor for Raleigh Ward that includes several rural villages including Collaton Raleigh, Otterton, Bicton and Yettington and most of Woodbury Common that are all within the “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” of East Devon has written to Cllr Thomas asking for his and full council support in creating a Jurassic National Park to cover the length of the Jurassic Coast from Poole Harbour in Dorset to Exe Estuary which would include Woodbury Common and the villages he represents.
This is because a few years ago the Council discussed the concept of creating a joint Dorset and East Devon National Park which they considered neither appropriate or achievable.

However, Cllr Geoff Jung points out that since then a lot has changed as the District Council is now working with Exeter, Teignbridge and Mid Devon Councils with the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan, to provide for extra housing and commercial development in the Greater Exeter growth area it would now make sense to open a dialogue with Dorset and the Government.
To the Leader of East Devon District Council.

(An open Letter to the leader of East Devon District Council)

Michael Gove the Environment Secretary has stated today (27/05/2018) plans for a new “Green revolution”, with a possible new generation of National Parks and changes to the boundaries to our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

This review is our one opportunity in East Devon to protect and enhance our beautiful area!

Within East Devon we have the Pebblebed Heaths (commonly known as Woodbury Common) and the Blackdown Hills designated as AONBs. We also have the World Heritage Jurassic Coast which covers the coast line area from Exmouth through to Lyme Regis in Dorset, and the Exe Estuary which is a most important habitat being designated a SSSI and RAMSAR site.

The review is to be conducted by a panel led by Julian Glover, a former Downing Street adviser. They will look at both extending existing AONB and National Parks or possibly creating new ones.

Mr Gove says the review will consider landscapes such as the Chilterns and South Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to join the list of 10 National Parks.

It should be noted that Mr Gove mentions South Devon which may not include our own district but would possibly include the “South Hams” only.

It is well known that National Park status “provides safeguards at the highest level “In most National Parks the decisions on planning matters are dealt with through the “National Park Authority.” However, in the recently formed South Downs National Park, the Local Authority administer the planning process, on behalf of the National Park.

I understand that Dorset and East Devon were in discussions a few years ago regarding a “Jurassic National Park” which would cover the coast line of the Jurassic Coast and the hinterland of some of East Devon and Dorset including the areas of AONB in each area. However, I understand that the proposals were not considered appropriate at that time.

I understand from colleagues in Dorset that they are now considering applying to Mr Gove to designate the Dorset area of the Jurassic Coast from Poole Harbour to Lyme Regis to be included in a National Park.

This very important review of the AONBs and National Parks could mean that with the current policy of EDDC we may find ourselves having a new National Park in Dorset and in the South Hams but none in our area!

This would be a travesty in East Devon considering that one of the Jurassic Coast`s most important areas is the undercliff between Lyme Regis and Seaton and we already have the Pebblebed Heaths and the Blackdown Hills.
The loss to East Devon’s Tourist trade and the exclusion of funding and grants that will be allocated to the new National Parks would mean our area lose out on a once in a lifetime opportunity for protecting our beautiful unique landscape.

East Devon District Council is discussing with their neighbours in the west (Exeter, Teignbridge, Mid Devon Councils) a plan development. The GESP (the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan) is looking at the “Growth Area” for possible expansion of housing and commerce within the confines of commuting distance of the main driver which is the growth of the City of Exeter.

However up to now our dialogue with our eastern neighbours has resulted in a negative response to a joint National Park.

I would strongly support that we endeavour to work with our growth point neighbours to the East but at the same time discuss with the National Park Panel and our Dorset neighbours to plan a balanced and unique area of managed economic growth to provide the required housing, infrastructure and commerce, and at the same time expand the AONB designated areas and strive for a joint Jurassic National Park that would include the most important natural areas in our district.

East Devon is about to be placed at a crossroads, do we ignore our wonderful and unique selling point which is our countryside and only concentrate on growth or do we aim to deliver on both these important issues?

This issue most not become a Party-Political tool, but be endorsed by all the parties and independents at East Devon District Council.

I therefore ask for your support and urgent consideration.
Councillor Geoff Jung
Raleigh Ward. East Devon District Councillor”

Developers rip off students and remit untaxed profits to tax havens

“Tens of thousands of undergraduates are paying for accommodation at universities where developers are cashing in on the privatisation of student housing using offshore companies, a Guardian investigation has found.

More than 20,000 students are paying for rooms owned by companies based in places such as Jersey, Guernsey, the British Virgin Islands and Luxembourg but that figure is likely to be an underestimate given the surge in building in university towns in recent years.

The holding structure means that overseas investors are able to sell on the rooms without paying tax on their gains and it allows buildings to change hands without any stamp duty bill. Complex company arrangements also give companies the opportunity to minimise the tax they pay while charging students up to £14,000 a year in fees for high-end housing.

One company collected £2.2m in rental income in 2016 but contributed just £10,000 in income tax after it paid £2.1m in charges, mostly to a Luxembourg based holding company.

The structures are perfectly legal, but MPs and students criticised their use. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/may/27/revealed-developers-cashing-in-privatisation-uk-student-housing

A task for our Police and Crime Commissioner … if she’s not too busy

Given that our Police and Crime Commissioner’s official calendar looks a bit thin:

http://www.devonandcornwall-pcc.gov.uk/meetings-and-events/calendar/

Ms Hernandez might like to think about earning some of her £85,000 plus expenses salary on dealing with some new statistics, published in today’s Sunday Times, about how many police suspects actually end up in court, and how the pitiful figures can be improved.

Figures for the south-west show that the number of people charged with offences had fallen dramatically.

In 2010-2011 84% of people charged with homicide offences went to court. That fell in 2016-2017 to 52%.

In 2010-2011 72% of people charged with possession of firearms went to court. That fell to 43% in 2016-2017.

In 2010-2011 93% of people charged with robbery went to court. That fell to 15% in 2016-2017.

East Devon National Park? Not in EDDC’s (many thousands of) back yards!

Gove wants more national parks. Dorset wanted a Jurassic National Park for Dorset and East Devon. Then EDDC Leader Paul Diviani said NO, NO, NO – we would lose control of planning (housing growth is heavily restricted in national parks).

And Clinton Devon Estates is most definitely against it too:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/11/09/dorset-positive-about-national-park-we-cant-join-up-as-diviani-doesnt-want-to-lose-control-of-assets/

And we wouldn’t want that, would we ….. well, naturally, of course, Owl would! And Owl suspects many others would welcome it.

A test of new Leader Ian Thomas’s green credentials?

“New wave of national parks could be created under Michael Gove’s plans for a ‘Green Brexit’

A new generation of National Parks could be created under Michael Gove’s plans for a “Green revolution”, The Telegraph can disclose.
The Environment Secretary is announcing on Sunday a sweeping review of the country’s protected landscapes, 70 years after the designation of the first National Parks.

The review, to be conducted by a panel led by Julian Glover, a former Downing Street adviser, “will look at both extending existing sites or creating new ones”, Mr Gove’s department said.

It is likely to consider calls for landscapes such as the Chilterns and South Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to join the list of 10 National Parks, which include the Lake District, Snowdonia and New Forest, and are protected by dedicated planning authorities and given special status in law.

Earlier this month, Dame Cheryl Gillan, the former Conservative cabinet minister, warned the Chilterns AONB was “threatened by development on all sides” and said National Park status “would provide safeguards at the highest level”.

Writing for the Telegraph, Mr Gove describes how National Parks are made particularly precious by the fact they are legally required to “promote opportunities for enjoyment” for visitors and to “provide homes for the farmers who keep our countryside both productive and beautiful”.

He adds: “In order to ensure our protected landscapes are in the best possible shape to meet future challenges I have asked the acclaimed writer Julian Glover, a passionate advocate for the countryside and a resident of one of our National Parks, to lead a review into how we can guarantee our most precious landscapes are in an even healthier condition for the next generation. The goal of Julian’s review is not to diminish their protection in any way, but to strengthen it in the face of present-day challenges.
“Are we properly supporting all those who live in, work in, or want to visit these magnificent places? Should we indeed be extending our areas of designated land? Could we do more to enhance our wildlife and support the recovery of natural habitats?”

The review, a key plank of the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan for a “Green Brexit”, will seek to “enhance natural habitats and protect plants and wildlife” as well as consider “expanding [the] network of National Parks and AONBs, supporting people who live and work there,” the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said. It will also look at ways to improve public access, in line with a separate pledge by Mr Gove to replace EU farming subsidies with a new system which pays farmers to improve access to their land.

The last time a new National Park was created was in 2009. Dame Cheryl has said designating the Chilterns as a National Park would help to “enhance the environment”.

Campaigners have also called for the Dorset AONB to be upgraded to National Park status, while others have advocated designating the Forest of Dean and Herefordshire Black Mountains as AONBs. While both statuses afford special protections, National Parks have a second formal purpose, under the 1995 Environment Act, to “promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities” of the areas by the public.

The Government pledged to conduct a review of protected landscapes as part of its 25-year Environment Plan. In its foreword, Mr Gove stated: “The plan looks forward to delivering a Green Brexit – seizing this once-in-a-lifetime chance to reform our agriculture and fisheries management, how we restore nature, and how we care for our land, our rivers and our seas.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/05/26/new-wave-national-parks-could-created-michael-goves-plans-green/