it is now getting very silly indeed! Whilst the sunny weather is great for outdoor activities it is now causing the Estate some real concerns. The brief downpours recently have done nothing to prevent the Pebblebed Heaths to be now tinder dry and a huge fire risk - already two arson attacks have occurred; Clinton Farms is struggling with grass and arable crops and both income will be down and costs of feed up later in the year; recently planted woodlands are suffering and many hectares will require re-planting this winter.
Only good news is that the hot weather will hopefully delay another serious bout of Phytophthora ramorum in our larch. John Wilding continues to be vigilant though. You will have noticed the significant increase in felling activity in East Devon - this is primarily to pre-empt any infection and take advantage of the market. We exported timber from Bideford recently which was a first (well for a long time) and we also saw timber going to mills in Norfolk, both these events say a lot about the English timber market! All our harvesting contractors have undertaken site based risk assessments which, in the main, have allowed public access. It is a credit to the forestry team and our contractors that we have had little or no adverse comment about our activities. Indeed comments we have received have been mainly inquisitive! We continue to engage with Forestry Commission SW supporting their initiative to encourage co-operative working across growers and processors in the region. A very innovative and forward thinking approach.
The £30m funding recently announced for rural broadband infrastructure in Devon is welcome news. The Estate has been involved in drawing up plans for investment in both wireless and fixed line broadband services across our commercial and residential properties for a number of years. We have already made contact with both the County and District Councils and hope to see some genuine investment in bandwidth across the geography of Devon over the coming months. It has been a long time coming (a bit like affordable housing but that is another story and future blog...).