Writer, teacher and mother, Sarah Allen lives and works in Exmouth. As well as writing a regular column for Exmouth Journal, she’s known for her blog Rhubarb and Runner beans (www.rhubarbandrunnerbeans.co.uk) and is working towards becoming a zero-waste household. Here are her thoughts on Exmouth, and the Neighbourhood Plan:
“I am a writer, teacher and mother living and working in Exmouth. I love being here, having moved to Exmouth 16 years ago, I would not want to live anywhere else. It's the perfect place to bring up my two children, aged 10 and 8, work in one of the local primary schools and to pursue my passion of writing, particularly about environmental issues and my adventure towards an eco-friendly way of life. I'm really excited by the Exmouth Neighbourhood Plan and think it's a fantastic opportunity for Exmouth residents to have their views taken into account and to shape the future of our town. A key area in the Neighbourhood Plan is protecting the natural environment including the Exe Estuary, beach, sea water quality and East Devon's Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
As I sit and write this, with a flask of coffee in my camper van, overlooking the view of the estuary it's easy to understand why this is essential. As dog-walkers and runners go by I can see that our beautiful natural environment is important to the lives of many of you. I'm a strong believer in the positive impact nature has on our well-being however the more important reason is out there, mostly on and under the water, the wildlife that call our estuary home.  I keep glancing up as I write distracted by the call of birds going about their everyday life right here, just a stone’s throw away from the town centre. The Neighbourhood Plan recognises that this estuary is an important feeding and breeding ground for birds and as a Special Protection Area and a Site of Special
I am keen for Exmouth to develop as an eco-friendly town and this view has been strongly expressed in response to the May 2016 Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire. We already have some excellent work being undertaken by groups such as Transition Exmouth, Clean Beach Exmouth, Clean Street Exmouth as well as local businesses and individuals. My vision is for a town that is sustainable and green to benefit local residents, our environment and provide an example to others. Living in this coastal area is a privilege but also a responsibility. Exmouth is already a popular destination for tourists and our economy is dependent on them. However, we could be doing more to attract "green tourism" and the Neighbourhood plan recognises this.
Recycling is one of my first passions and a catalyst in starting as a writer. I made a pledge at the start of 2017 that I would see how long I could go only buying products in recyclable packaging. I immediately failed at my next shopping trip - however I did not give up and two years on my family of four only produce two wheelie bins of rubbish a year. Part of this, to be honest, has been a complete rethink on my part about how to shop such as reducing the actual amount I buy and taking advantage of the opportunity to refill existing containers like washing up liquid at shops such as Exmouth's Mother Earth. However part of my waste reduction has been thanks to EDDCs developments and improvements in recycling and the range of materials I can now recycle (mostly conveniently with my weekly kerbside collection). The Neighbourhood Plan supports EDDCs existing strategies and the monitoring and management of inappropriate refuse and litter disposal in Exmouth. The plan recognises that Exmouth is generally a clean and tidy town but there are some commercial and, occasionally, residential areas in which rubbish is affecting the quality of the environment. As a coastal town, it is very easy for litter to enter the marine environment and then be eaten by fish or broken into microplastics which are now known to enter the human body as part of the food chain. This is not acceptable and the plan recognises this alongside the challenges some residents face with storing the 4 bins provided by EDDC for recycling and rubbish. All these environmental issues raised by Exmouth residents via the Neighbourhood Plan are valid and important for the health of the natural world including humans.”
If you, like Sarah, want to support the Exmouth Neighbourhood Plan then put March 21st in your diary. Exmouth needs your vote!
Scientific Interest (SSSI) it is recognised nationally as being the exceptional area we know it to be. The Neighbourhood plan is clear that any new development must not cause deterioration. The area I'm in right now, the "Duck Pond" is designated as a Local Nature Reserve. The Neighbourhood plan is suggesting the land north of the station should be improved and become a natural parkland area.
The suggestion has been made that the town should have its own Interpretation Information Centre to benefit visitors and the community by helping them to enjoy the natural environment and reduce the risk of environmental damage through lack of understanding and awareness. Alongside this the Neighbourhood Plan recognises the need for a more comprehensive approach to environmental education and public awareness. This is crucial and needs to happen quickly, climate change predictions are now more severe than previously thought with potentially catastrophic consequences for humans and wildlife. The need for action is urgent. Ensuring visitors and residents alike are connected to nature, understand that they are a part of the natural world and not separate to it and that everyday actions impact on the environment is a crucial part of collective action and a shift in attitude about how we treat the living planet.
© Exmouth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group website: Rob Masding