Jan Gannaway is passionate about wildlife, biodiversity and cycling – so she got involved at the early stages of the Exmouth Neighbourhood Plan, suggesting ways that biodiversity could be included. Despite being retired she keeps herself busy with Exmouth Wildlife Group, Devon Wildlife Trust, and volunteering for Sustrans. It’s great to hear her views on living in Exmouth and what we need to protect for the future.
“When I retired from teaching in Somerset, I chose to move to Exmouth because the coast is so beautiful here. We are surrounded by wonderful, unique countryside and Exmouth is a friendly and active community. For many years, I have campaigned for sustainable transport – cycling, walking and public transport. I use my bike to get around Exmouth; it is good for me (exercise) and good for the environment (less pollution, less congestion) but mainly it is convenient – a cheap and quick way to get around. I have volunteered with Sustrans for some years and I know that many people feel cycling on the roads is simply too dangerous. To encourage people to cycle it is important to provide safe routes to get to the shops or to work, and safe routes for children to get to school on their bikes. Safe routes use traffic-free paths as far as possible and, where necessary, some sections of road where speed restrictions are in place.In the Neighbourhood Plan, the 'Access Strategy for Exmouth' section proposes various developments to infrastructure and routes which should “improve access for residents and improve awareness of what opportunities exist to walk or cycle rather than use cars”. These improvements would also benefit wheelchair users, and those with pushchairs, along with cyclists and walkers. A map in the Neighbourhood Plan shows how current cycle routes connect areas of the town to the centre and also shows 'missing links' which, it is hoped, will be improved or developed in the future - eventually leading to a web of radial routes from the centre. With this in mind, a map is currently being created collecting data about all the useful paths in Exmouth that could be connected up to improve routes within the town and to local places of interest outside Exmouth like Bystock Pools and Woodbury Common.Since childhood, I have had a passionate interest in wildlife, the environment and conservation. As well as volunteering for Devon Wildlife Trust (surveying dormice, otters and marine wildlife) I’ve been involved in starting two local groups – Exmouth Swift Group and Exmouth Wildlife Group. In our town we have wonderful wildlife that needs help. For example, we can support our tiny population of hedgehogs by requiring developers to install hedgehog holes in all fencing in new housing areas so that hedgehogs move around safely from garden to garden away from roads. A small group of swifts migrate all the way from Africa every year to nest in Exmouth. We can help them by putting up nest boxes and requiring builders to put special nesting bricks into new buildings. There are orchids growing by the side of the road in Exmouth that we can protect by planning how and when we cut the verges. More wild flowers will give us more wild bees, butterflies and other insects.Evidence shows that people are healthier, mentally and physically, when they are in contact with nature and can see wildlife around them. Asthma is less common among children living near trees because trees and hedges remove pollutants from the air. Doctors prescribe fewer anti-depressants to those who live in, or use, green spaces. Half the British population feed birds because they love wild birds to visit their gardens. Having green and pleasant surroundings encourages all of us to go outside and enjoy the benefits of exercise and fresh air. I believe that the Neighbourhood Plan, if adopted, will give all of us more say in how we travel, how active and healthy we are, and how we protect our wildlife and environment. It aspires to develop Exmouth as a ‘green town’, and will help to keep Exmouth green, beautiful and thriving.”If you’d like to help protect our local wildlife then join Exmouth Wildlife Group – they’d love to see your photos, and hear your observations and ideas. You can find them on Facebook at Exmouth Wildlife Group or visit the website https://www.exmouthwildlifegroup.org/ And if you agree with Jan about the role Exmouth Neighbourhood Plan can play in protecting wildlife then don’t forget to vote at the Referendum tomorrow, March 21st. http://www.exmouthneighbourhoodplan.uk/