Dog walkers urged to pick up after their pets on Pebblebed Heaths
One of the biggest complaints among visitors to the Heaths, which are one of the region’s most important wildlife sites, is dog fouling, so now Clinton Devon Estates is starting a trial of dog bins at a number of key car parks on the Commons.
The initiative is in collaboration with East Devon District Council, whose dog warden will be keeping an eye how the public engage with the project.
Dr Sam Bridgewater, conservation manager for the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths and the River Otter Estuary, said: “The Pebblebed Heaths are an amazing place for wildlife, and a popular recreational area.
“Dog walking comprises one of the primary uses of the Commons but, sadly, dog fouling, especially around car parks, makes the environment unpleasant for everyone. It also has a detrimental impact on the habitats and wildlife.”
Dog fouling typically occurs within 10 minutes of a walk starting, so the bins are being placed near car parks. Dog walkers are also being reminded that they have a legal obligation to pick up after their animals under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act of 2005.
The results of a survey carried out two years ago among a sample of 1,571 visitors to the Heaths found that 42 per cent had one or more dog with them.
Dr Bridgewater added: “We hope that the provision of dog bins at key locations on the Commons will be met positively and respectfully by dog owners and other users, and that it will help keep the Pebblebed Heaths an area of outstanding beauty that can be enjoyed by all.”
The bins are being installed by East Devon District Council and will be serviced by their contractors, Sita, although the scheme is being funded by Clinton Devon Estates, who will also monitor the trial.
Councillor Iain Chubb, EDDC’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “I welcome this forward-thinking initiative and I’m pleased that the council can work with private enterprise to help ensure our beautiful countryside is a place that everyone can enjoy. We have many years’ experience of helping the public to clean up after their dogs and it’s good to see a major landowner doing its bit for the environment by expanding on the current arrangements that we have in place around the district.
“I’d like to remind all dog owners that they are responsible for picking up after their pets, disposing of the waste responsibly and not spoiling everyone else’s enjoyment of the area by failing to do this. We and our partners can provide the bins and arrange collection but cleaning up after your dog is up to you!”
Locations for the new bins are the car parks at: Joney’s Cross at Hawkerland; The Warren on Colaton Raleigh Common; Woodbury Castle and Model Airfield on Woodbury Common; and Four Firs on Bicton Common.
The Pebblebed Heaths cover 2,800 acres and are an estimated 240 million years old, are owned by Clinton Devon Estates and managed by the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, a charity set up by Clinton Devon Estates.
The Heaths are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).