Rivers Assembly

9.30am – 2.30pm
Saturday 18th March 2023

Kingsbridge Community College
Balkwill Road, TQ7 1PL
Access resource pack


Arrival from 9.30am

All in the Main Hall: 10am - 10.45am (prompt start)

Exhibition: 10.45am - 12.45pm (Refreshments available throughout.  Working lunch served from 11.30-12.45)

Creative Room: 9.30am - 1pm Drop In

Catchment Roundtable (Optional): 12noon - 12.45pm

Topic Spotlight Sessions: 1pm – 2.30pm (in signed Class Rooms)


Infrastructure & Regulation

Measuring & Data


Arrival from 9.30am

Welcome, collect leaf badges and programmes
Projects & promises map of South Hams rivers in foyer

All in the Main Hall: 10am - 10.45am (prompt start)

SusSH welcome and signposting for the day - Jane Nichols, Director Sustainable South Hams

Overview presentations of the Five South Hams River Catchments:

  • Yealm - Peter Brown, Chair Yealm Estuary to Moor
  • Erme - Mark Walker, Ermington Environmental
  • Avon - John Roberts, Chair of Aune Fishing Association
  • Salcombe-Kingsbridge Estuary - Nigel Mortimer, Estuaries Officer South Devon AONB
  • Dart - Nicola Rogers, Evidence and Engagement Programme Manager, Westcountry Rivers Trust

Exhibition: 10.45am - 12.45pm (Refreshments available throughout.  Working lunch served from 11.30-12.45) 

Exhibition time - find your pick and mix action plan from all the exhibitors and other attendees

Practical demonstrations and interactive maps

Networking time and 1-to-1s in meeting rooms

Creative forum in Library: River Reflections, Future Directions
Map your projects or action plans in the foyer


  1. Yealm Estuary to Moor YEM project team

Creating wildlife corridors, tree planting, working with partners, setting up a group and data collection.

  1. Slapton Field Study Centre and National Nature Reserve, Kieran Shaw-Flach NNR Ranger & Greg Bowes Tutor with NNR volunteers 

Exhibiting the work of Slapton Ley Field Centre, ranging from the delivery of our education courses to the conservation of our National Nature Reserve. Tutor Greg will be showing our pond dipping and invertebrate identification fieldwork, whilst our ranger Kieran shares some of our water monitoring efforts.

  1. Devon Wildlife Trust Hetty Lewis, Wilder Communities Officer
    Lynne Kenderdine, Land Management Advisory Officer, Avon Valley Project
    Daniel Brown, Beaver Field Officer

    Wilder Communities information, wildlife gardening resources, Avon Valley Project information, Beaver Project information.
  2. Salcombe-Kingsbridge Estuary Officer AONB, Nigel Mortimer
    A demonstration of flocculation and freshwater floating over saltwater – two key estuarine natural phenomena. Free Salcombe-Kingsbridge Estuary seagrass charts and shark egg-case ID leaflets.
  3. Ambios Ltd Simon Roper, Director & Molly Turner, Farm and Course Coordinator

Ambios is 3 years into a long-term Rewilding of 130 acres on the Sharpham Estate next to the river Dart. This is the backdrop to our residential training programme. Making space for nature, by reducing cattle grazing and introducing pigs has led to amazing increases in wildlife diversity and abundance.

  1. Till the Coast is Clear Gary Jolliffe, Director
    A display of plastic pollution commonly found on our waterways & shores & a section of litter boom destined for Brixham harbour. Circular economy kayak.
  2. Gara River Water Vole Reintroduction Project Sue Hadow, Project Lead & Victoria Benns, founder Wild About Nature
    Information about the reintroduction with posters, maps and flyers. They’ll be ready to answer questions about the breeding and caring for captive water voles prior to reintroduction and the process itself. There will be opportunities for volunteers to be involved around the reintroduction periods and possibly with the monitoring and surveying of the water voles once released.
  3. Westcountry Rivers Trust, CSI water monitoring scheme

Nicola Rogers, Evidence & Engagement Manager &

Jack Middleton, Citizen Science Volunteer (CSI) Coordinator

The Westcountry CSI scheme enables volunteers to contribute to the resilience of our region’s rivers, their habitats and wildlife, and our water resource. For now, and for future generations. Collecting regular water quality samples not only produces good data, which we can use to identify areas of concern, but also enables citizen scientists to get to know their river, helping to identify positive and negative changes and influencing action where needed.

  1. Kingsbridge Community College Eco Committee

Jani Morton, Teacher

Kingsbridge Community College eco-committee sharing their ideas and actions they have been taking to improve the environment around their school.

  1. Woodland Trust  

Sam Manning, Site Manager

The Woodland Trust's site, 'Avon Valley Woods', located in the South Hams, the Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest Project, our MOREwoods woodland creation offer and Natural Flood Management.

  1. Bioregional Learning Centre (BLC) Directors Isabel Carlisle & Jane Brady, and BLC Associates Elena Plugaru & Emilio Mula
    A new project for the Dart - Living Dart: The Saltmarsh Project. You will be warmly invited to take part in a poll, a first step in inviting you to help shape the early stages of the project.
  2. Friends of the River Dart (FOD) Hannah Pearson, Pritam Singh & Robert Worthington
    Friends of the Dart is a growing community group of swimmers, conservationists, anglers, boaters, farmers, landowners, canoeists and nature lovers. We are here to inspire connection, learning and opportunity in joining people together to tackle pollution in our river. We are working across many organisations and are well on our way to making multiple bathing water applications along the length of the Dart.
  3. River Dart Action Collective (RDAC) Guy Attewell & John Cummings

We are empowering communities to play a greater role in policy and decision-making. RDAC aims to create a new space for monitoring the River Dart, and bring greater levels of transparency, accountability, and coherence to policies that impact its health.

  1. Dartmoor National Park Angelique McBride & Kerry Smith, Headwaters Natural Flood Management (NFM)

Exhibiting the natural flood management project on Dartmoor, using banners, leaflets, case studies, photos of NFM work, and a map of Dartmoor with our catchments for people to interact with.

  1. Moor Trees Tim Ferry & volunteers
    Moor Trees New Vision for Dartmoor with revived temperate rainforest in all its river valleys; the Moor Trees ultra-local-provenance tree growing and planting operation with opportunities for volunteers, members, corporate partners and donors.
  2. Sustainable South Brent Hayden Gabriel, Trustee - Youth Liaison

Engaging young people with activities aiming to mitigate the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss is beneficial not only to the environment, but also to the young people themselves. Sustainable South Brent will share some of the approaches taken to access this sometimes difficult-to-reach part of our community.
Running the Young Adult Ambassadors video.

  1. Ermington Environmental Mark Walker & local action group

Increasing awareness thorough project groups centered around:

developing renewable energy; increasing biodiversity; decreasing fossil fuel usage; and decreasing pollution (all forms). Open gatherings in the local pub, presentations, attending other group meetings, with an aim of 20 events for 2023 with all welcome, especially getting the young actively involved.

  1. Evolving Forests Katherine Giles & Jez Ralph

Sharing details on our ‘Coastal & Estuarine Woodland Project’. We will exhibit posters setting out context and background for the project as well as printed out maps for people to draw on and add comments identifying areas of natural regeneration & ownership.

  1. Environment Agency, Emma Magee, South Devon Catchment Coordinator

The role of the Environment Agency, with a focus on South Devon.

  1. South West Water, Nick Paling, Stakeholder Engagement Manager & Charlotte Bacon, Community Engagement Officer
    They will be available for discussion and debate on a roaming basis and to network and connect during exhibition time. Looking to harvest points of view, gather questions and are happy to follow up post assembly.

Creative Room: 9.30am - 1pm Drop In

‘River Reflections and Future Directions’ facilitated by University of Plymouth Researchers
Sally Sutton, Eva McGrath & Zoe Latham with artist & illustrator Emma Jones

‘River Reflections and Future Directions’ is a space to share river stories, memories, hopes and dreams. Be inspired to take a moment out of the action-packed day to reflect, digest and think about the future of your local river.

Showing videos:

Wonwell Flows, by Laura Denning

The Drip: A Watery Tale

Note: After the event there will be a qualitative measurement to identify the key themes which emerge.

Catchment Roundtable (Optional): 12noon - 12.45pm

Informal working lunch with roundtable discussion for each catchment

Topic Spotlight Sessions: 1pm – 2.30pm
(in signed Class Rooms)

Spotlight talks of approx 5 minutes, followed by breakout discussion and Q&A sessions.

Engagement Room (Facilitator: Eva Stephens)

Content: Citizen Science water monitoring; Communities and the public; Tipping points; Local Campaigns; Youth engagement: Sustainable South Brent on Young Adult Ambassadors, and Kingsbridge Community College aims to become an Eco-School.

Spotlight Speakers & Topics

Bioregional Learning Centre

After a brief overview of our bioregional orientation, there will be examples of our convening and communications work: the Devon Doughnut and our latest project, Living Dart: The Saltmarsh Project. What opportunities could we create for local people to help protect this vital habitat and carbon store? What’s the wider picture that influences what can and can’t be done? 

Jane Brady, Director

Friends of the River Dart

Friends of the Dart, who we are and how we are connecting community to inspire positive action for the river Dart. Information about our multiple bathing water designated sites on the Dart and how you can get involved. Our campaign to extend the bathing water testing period and pollutants that are tested.
Hannah Pearson Friends of the River Dart

Devon Wildlife Trust, Wilder Communities

Behaviour change and tipping points in engagement.

Hetty Lewis, Wilder Communities Officer

Westcountry Rivers Trust

Westcountry Rivers Trust's Citizen Science Investigation (CSI) Programme, what it is and how we plan to develop it in the South Hams.

Jack Middleton, CSI & Volunteer Coordinator

Kingsbridge Community College Eco Group

Jani Morton, Teacher

Sustainable South Brent

Hayden Gabriel, Trustee - Youth Liaison

Infrastructure & Regulation Room (Facilitator: Jane Nichols)

Content: Infrastructure Suppliers; Regulation; Future operations; Parish & Town Council input and planning; ‘Shadow Regulation’ 

Spotlight Speakers & Topics

South West Water

Nick will make a brief introduction to SWW, what they are trying to do with regard to infrastructure, and he’s keen to hear questions. If he is unable to answer questions, he will feed back afterwards.

Nick Paling, Stakeholder Engagement Manager

Environment Agency

The role of the Environment Agency with a focus on South Devon.

Emma Magee, Environment Agency South Devon Catchment Coordinator

Brixton Parish Council & River Yealm Water Quality Group

Our aim is to reduce the pollution in the River Yealm from the spillage of sewage and surface water drainage into the River Yealm.  In collaboration with the Yealm Estuary to Moor project we have set up a Citizens Science Monitoring of the river. The parish councils are working collaboratively to have a consistent response to planning applications to the District Council for any new build and extensions in the management of surface water drainage to ensure that surface water is dealt with on site rather than going into the river through the drains.

Liz Hitchins, Chair

Water Quality, Drainage & Planning for Local Councils

What we can do now regarding new planning applications; an invitation to feed into improvements to the Joint Local Plan; working together to upgrade drainage to cope with higher rainfall.

Sune Nightingale, SusSH Parish & Town Councillor Mentor

Shadow Regulation

Developing the concept of liaising with and if necessary, challenging the legalities of water quality.

Martin Fodder, SusSH ‘Shadow Regulator’

Measuring & Data Room (Facilitator: Louise Wainwright)

Content: Monitoring water processes and equipment; What to do with the data

Spotlight Speakers & Topics

Westcountry Citizen Science Investigation (CSI) water monitoring scheme

Understanding how citizen science is being used to investigate and support the health of our rivers.

Nicola Rogers, Evidence & Engagement Programme Manager

Yealm Estuary to Moor (YEM) Continuous Water Monitor Probe

An introduction to the work and data collection by YEM volunteers, including setting up Westcountry Rivers CSI water monitoring; the introduction of a continuous water monitor; developing a water quality response team; and early results from a University of Plymouth MRes project.

Jane Pennington, River Coordinator

Bioregional Learning Centre

Presenting data used to portray the River Dart in our Voices of the Dart project which took place in 2022. Showing the approach we took: of data, lived experience, local know-how and how the many ways of connecting to our river empowers communities to design climate-resilient water futures.

Isabel Carlisle, Director

Nature Rooms (Facilitators: Ruth Saunders (Room 1), Lynda Kelly (Room 2))

Content: Creating landscape scale changes; From Moor to Shore; Wildlife corridors; New wildlife initiatives

Spotlight Speakers & Topics

Room 1

The River Gara Water Vole Reintroduction Project 

An outline of the benefits of water voles as a keystone species and the history and reasons for their decline. Description of what has been achieved so far in preparation for the reintroductions. Explanation of the costs involved in rearing captive water voles  and the importance of mink traps as part of the reintroduction process. Description of the opportunities for volunteers to become involved.

Sue Hadow & Victoria Benns, Project Leads

Ambios Ltd

Ambios is a nature conservation training organisation that is also rewilding on the Sharpham Estate. We are allowing natural regeneration with supplemented tree/shrub planting across the site to move towards creating wood-pasture/open-grown woodland. Going forward we will also be ’slowing the flow’ of our streams by creating new ponds and wet grassland areas.

Simon Roper, Director

Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) Beaver Team

A brief introduction to my role as Beaver Field Officer on the river Otter, giving tangible examples of how beavers have amended the environment in which they live.

Daniel Brown, Beaver Field Officer

Room 2

South Devon AONB Saltmarsh & Seagrass Restoration Projects

What we are doing to restore the salt marshes around the Dart Estuary, conserve the Salcombe-Kingsbridge and Yealm seagrass meadows, and information on biosecurity.

Nigel Mortimer, South Devon AONB Officer

Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) Headwaters & Natural Flood Management

Brief summary of the natural flood management project working on Dartmoor where we will describe the issues of flooding from Dartmoor, the opportunities and constraints on Dartmoor, what we have done so far and what our ambitions are until the end of project in 2027.

Angelique McBride, Kerry Smith, Dartmoor Headwaters NFM Officers

Yealm Estuary to Moor (YEM) Wildlife Corridor project

YEM is a long-term community environmental project aimed at increasing biodiversity and creating wildlife corridors within the catchment of the river Yealm including in the river itself. Based on what we have done to date and our plans going forward, it is important to discuss how best to map/record progress and connect with the Devon-wide Landscape Nature Recovery Strategy.

Diane Castle, Project Coordinator

For more information contact:

Ruth Saunders ruth@sussh.org
Jane Nichols jane@sussh.org 
Bridie Kennerley info@sussh.org


With thanks to…

All speakers, exhibitors and the extended Sustainable South Hams team.

Kingsbridge Community College. 

SHDC councillors who offered support, and Climate Officer Adam Williams.

Popo Yung and Rob Nichols for design and graphics.

Martin Fodder, with help from Sue Hadow for the ”Long Read”.

Catering by Feast Kitchen Deli, Teas from Herb Heaven Devon, Coffee from Beach Barista Ltd, Milk from Challon’s Combe