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A planning application for the Lower Otter Restoration Project has been submitted to East Devon District Council.
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Environmental statement

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Planning application - Biodiversity

LORP will restore the floodplain of the River Otter to a condition similar to that previously found prior to the construction of the embankments. Once established, LORP will provide an increased habitat resource for overwintering birds, benthic estuarine invertebrates and intertidal, estuarine and migratory fish species in the Otter catchment.


The biodiversity, marine ecology and fish impact assessment has identified that without mitigation there is potential for the Scheme to impact important ecological features for nature conservation and species protected by legislation.


Mitigation measures comprise, design stage avoidance of adverse impacts, best practice design, pollution control measures, general good construction practices, habitat protection measures, sensitive landscaping and mitigation planting. Protected species mitigation is in accordance with legal requirements and seeks to enhance the integrity of populations where possible to do so.


After mitigation, residual significant effects are anticipated due to habitat loss of grassland and swamp habitat, which are the qualifying features of Otter Meadows County Wildlife Site. This is due to the change in habitat required to achieve the purpose of the Scheme. Although avoidance and mitigation measures will be undertaken, like for like compensation for the loss of these habitats cannot be achieved.


However, the habitats being created are of equal or greater value/sensitivity and equivalent scarcity and biodiversity benefit as those lost. Reinstating natural processes will result in the change of terrestrial and freshwater habitat into intertidal habitat, with long term, more sustainable benefits for species and habitats.


The localised and short term negative impacts of construction activities upon existing biodiversity and loss of habitats are balanced against longer term Scheme operation which has overwhelming positive impacts and benefits to the estuary and wider area, due to restoration of more natural environments, processes and enhanced habitats that will attract greater numbers and more varied wildlife.


There are multiple beneficial significant effects from the creation of saltmarsh and mudflat habitats on site and a more natural transition from intertidal to freshwater and terrestrial habitats. This will have a beneficial significant effect on the Otter Estuary Marine Conservation Zone, Otter Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest, invertebrates (freshwater and marine), fish (freshwater and migratory), overwintering birds (including Exe Estuary Special Protection Area and Ramsar qualifying species), otters and harvest mouse from habitat creation.

Landscape and visual effects

Geology, soils and contamination

Overall the Scheme is considered beneficial for geology and soils as it results in a more natural river system and improved protection from flooding of the landfill, which will help to prevent pollution.


Contamination from general construction activities are to be mitigated through best practicable means which consists of measures such as tracking systems to control the movement of soil, including stockpile management, controlling groundwater in excavations and spill prevention measures. All control measures will be detailed in the Construction Management Plan.


Significant adverse effects during construction and operation may occur from South Farm Road former landfill to groundwater/surface water in the new river channel. This will be mitigated through construction of a physical barrier separating the river channel and the eastern area of the landfill. Any remaining contamination will not be significant.

Water, geomorphology and hydromorphology

The following operational impacts have been identified as having beneficial (significant) effects on the water environment and no mitigation measures are required:

 Geomorphological processes on the shingle barrier and ebb tidal delta and the World Heritage Site;

 Geomorphological processes on the Otter Estuary; and

 Decreased flood risk to the receptors adjacent to the Otter Estuary floodplain

The following impacts require mitigation to reduce the effects to less than significant:

 Increased suspended solids and/or chemical contamination causing potential surface water contamination. These will be mitigated through controls on construction activities.

 Loss of supply from Pulhayes Farm licence abstraction supply. This will be mitigated through the relocation of the supply and sealing of the spring chambers.

 Potential impact on abstraction borehole water quality of Otterton boreholes and the Otterton Sandstone Principal aquifer. A groundwater monitoring strategy will be produced, and further ground investigation will be undertaken to determine whether additional mitigation in the northeast area of the Scheme is required.

 Increased tidal flood risk under projected climate change scenarios to the Trunk Drain drainage assets plus Frogmore Road and adjacent pumping station and substation. These will be mitigated through a managed adaptive approach to asset resilience in future.

The Scheme is likely to have several minor to major beneficial landscape and visual effects on the LORP site. Initially changes to the local landscape will be inevitable during construction due to the loss of vegetation and trees in the footprint of the construction works and the temporary presence of construction equipment and machinery. Vegetation will be retained and protected from damage as much as possible.  


Once LORP is operational the views will be quite different from the reclaimed farmland that exists there currently. The Scheme will provide landscape improvements through the restoration of natural wetland habitat which will enhance the landscape character of the area.


Minor adverse visual effects on local residents and users of the public rights of way will be caused by the new car park, however trees and shrubs will be planted to mitigate for these changes.


The historic environment

Deposits of potentially important historic environmental interest may be affected by excavating the tidal creek and constructing bridge supports at South Farm Road.


This is to be mitigated through the sampling and analysis of these peat deposits to determine their age. Further investigation may be required depending on the results. Groundworks for the Scheme, in particular the excavation of the tidal creek and outer creek channels, have the potential to impact on previously unknown archaeological assets resulting in damage or complete removal (if present).


An Archaeological Mitigation Strategy will be produced and approved by the Devon County Archaeologist before construction works are undertaken. This Strategy will detail the programme of archaeological mitigation to be implemented before or during construction e.g. geophysical surveys, historic building records and watching briefs.

Traffic and transport

Construction of the scheme will result in no significant impacts, although there will be minor adverse effect on roads resulting from small increases in traffic and a reduction in parking capacity.


These will result in effects lasting for a few months rather than for the entire duration of the construction programme.


There are no significant impacts resulting from operation of the Scheme. However, there are long term beneficial effects arising from:

 South Farm Road being less prone to flooding, because it would be raised on an embankment;

 Reduced risk of collisions and improved public safety resulting from improvements to South Farm Road and management of existing informal parking; and

 Formalised parking at South Farm Road.


Cumulative effects

There is an opportunity for a receptor (such as a local resident) to be affected in multiple ways by LORP (intra-project cumulative effects). Temporary adverse effects have been identified for the construction phase, and permanent beneficial effects for the operational phase of the Scheme. The short-term adverse effects (noise and visual intrusion from construction activities on users of nearby public rights of way and residents) would be outweighed by the long-term beneficial effects from the more extensive saltmarsh and intertidal habitats.   


LORP has also been assessed in combination with other large projects expected to occur within the Otter valley at the same time (inter-project cumulative effects), specifically the FAB Link project, the relocation of the Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club and the installation of a replacement South West Water Combined Sewer Outfall pipe in the Otter Estuary.


The timings of these projects are uncertain and therefore we have considered the worst case scenario, assuming construction will take place at the same time (although works for the Scheme and FAB Link would seek to avoid being in the same specific location at the same time). There will be some adverse effects such as noise and visual impacts during construction only. No significant operational inter-project effects are anticipated.


Mitigation for cumulative effects during construction relate to maintaining good communication between the developers and residents to help limit concern and to allow opportunities for sensitive phasing and planning of works. Other measures are good practice measures such as maintaining tidy construction sites and the use of screening to limit visual intrusion. LORP and all other projects will have their own Construction Codes of Practice and Construction Environmental Management Plans to adhere to.


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