1. The Council's Vision for Beaches in the South Hams
The Council's aim is for the beaches of the South Hams to provide:
- a valuable resource for the health, enjoyment and well-being of the District's residents and visitors;
- a clean unspoiled environment;
- a range of opportunities from popular amenity beaches with high quality facilities to remote tranquil coves, and;
- a resource underpinning the prosperity of the tourism economy.
2. A hierarchy of standards for beaches
The Council recognises that there is a wide range of beach types, with different levels of facilities and amenities. The Council therefore advocates a hierarchy of indicative management standards for each category of beach, as follows:
As a general guide, the most popular and accessible amenity beaches will most likely have:
- Official "designated bathing water" status (as determined by Defra)
- Excellent water quality
- Toilet facilities readily available for public use
- Café nearby
- Daily litter cleaning in high season
- Car parking close by
- Seasonal dog restrictions
- Public rescue equipment
- Seasonal lifeguard service (where indicated by risk assessment)
- Active promotion for tourism
- On-site information provision (safety, environmental, etc)
- Easy access on to beach
As a general guide, the intermediate category of beaches will most likely have:
- Excellent water quality (but not currently tested)
- Cleaning as and when needed
- Car parking (normally within about 500m)
- May have toilet facilities nearby available for public use
- May have easy access
- May have café or pub nearby
- Public rescue equipment (but only where indicated by risk assessment) o
- Some promotion
As a general guide, the remote and inaccessible category of beaches will most likely have:
- No facilities
- Only occasional cleaning, usually by volunteers
- No active promotion or publicity
- No signage
- Public rescue equipment (but only where indicated by risk assessment)
3. Bathing Water Quality
- The Council seeks excellent water quality for all beaches in the South Hams, and particularly for those owned or managed by the Council. o
- The Council will take a proactive approach to informing and warning the public about water quality hazards on the beaches which it controls or jointly controls with others, as required by Bathing Water Regulations.
- The Council will continue (through the AONB office) to seek improvements to water quality through lobbying the respective agencies. It will also assist by providing technical support and advice for relevant Environment Agency and Natural England initiatives.
4. Beach Awards (Blue Flag awards scheme and similar)
- The Council will welcome "Blue Flag" and similar beach award applications being made by beach owners and tourism businesses but will not seek to take a leading role in the process.
5. Beach Safety
- The siting and levels of provision of any rescue equipment, lifeguards and boat lane marker buoys will be informed by comprehensive risk assessment of all South Hams beaches and shoreline.
- The Council will ensure that appropriate safety facilities are in place on its own beaches.
- Where safety facilities are provided on beaches which are privately owned, the Council will move towards recouping all the costs from owners.
- The Council will explore, in discussion with parish councils, whether there may be opportunities for local sponsorship to contribute to the cost of beach safety facilities.
6. Beach Signage
- The Council will continue to provide appropriate safety signage at the beaches it owns and manages. o
- The Council will continue to facilitate the provision of appropriate safety signage at privately owned amenity beaches. The Council will seek to recoup the cost from sponsorship, parish council or landowner contributions.
- The signage provided will use the standardised national format developed by RNLI.
- The Council will seek to avoid a proliferation of "signage clutter" at all sites by ensuring that signage is well designed and carefully sited, and the number of signs is minimised by careful coordination with others.
7. Active and Hazardous Sports and Activities
- Recreational pressures and conflicts will, where possible, be addressed through education, good site management, and cooperation with other beach owners and agencies.
- Although the Council's byelaws relating to beach management and safety are outdated, the case for updating them is not currently pressing but the situation will be kept under review.
8. Dog Controls
Dog controls and management on beaches will form part of the Council's wider policies for dog management and the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act.
Appropriate dog management measures will be put in place at the Council's own beaches.
9. Beach Cleaning
- The Council will continue to maintain high standards of cleanliness on its own beaches. The Council will not undertake cleaning of private beaches unless the full cost is recouped from landowners.
- The Council will continue to support community and volunteer beach cleaning activities by providing bags and sharps boxes if required and by collecting the bagged litter from roadside free of charge by prior arrangement.
10. Public Toilets
The Council advocates that toilets for public use should be available at or near the most popular amenity beaches and intermediate beaches, though these will not necessarily be provided by the Council itself.
11. Environmental Management
- The Council will continue to ensure that in undertaking all its beach management activities it promotes nature conservation. It will also promote the conservation and enhancement of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- The tranquil and unspoiled character of the coastline will be protected and maintained.
- Improvements will be sought to coastal sites damaged by past poor quality development or intensive recreational pressure.
- The Council will continue to support Visit South Devon in its work to market and promote the beaches of the South Hams.
- The Council advocates that tourism promotion and marketing effort should be concentrated only on those beaches which are well served with facilities and best able to cope with visitor pressure.
13. Events, Competitions and non-commercial organised activities
- The Council will in principle be supportive of community and non-commercial events and activities on its own beaches, where these can be undertaken safely and without undue disturbance to other beach users, and where they do not close off beaches to the wider public during times of peak use.
- The Council will use its existing application procedures for handling requests to run events on Council-owned and -managed beaches.
- Where a beach is in split ownership, the Council will seek to agree a common approach with the other landowners.
14. Commercial Trading
- The Council will aim to ensure that its beaches are maintained for quiet family enjoyment and not generally have trading activities on the beaches themselves.
- Trading activities based in adjoining carparks or Council land will be subject to the normal application procedures through the Council's asset managers.
- Licensed ferry services will continue to be permitted to use Council beaches for embarking and disembarking passengers.
- The Council will not seek to designate any naturist beaches officially.
- The tradition of discreet nudism practised unofficially at more remote beaches is accepted.
- Naturism will generally not be appropriate at the most heavily used amenity beaches.
16. Organisation and Management
- The Council will ensure that the management of its own beaches is appropriately resourced and organised.
- The Council will work with other beach owners to promote a coherent and consistent approach to beach management, focusing effort on the most popular beaches and taking a risk-based approach to service provision.
- An annual liaison meeting will be held with owners of other amenity beaches.
- The Council recognises the benefit of identifying a co-ordinating staff member responsible for beach management, but achieving this would be subject to resources.