PEOPLE are being asked to have their say on how the countryside and coastline can be best managed to cope with an increasing population in the area.
The joint populations of Exeter, Teignbridge and East Devon are set to increase by almost 100,000 over the next 20 years. The countryside and coastline are key attractions that need careful management as visitor numbers grow.
Exeter City Council, East Devon District Council and Teignbridge District Council are investigating ways to manage pressures on the Exe Estuary, Dawlish Warren and East Devon Pebblebed Heaths, which are all home to internationally important bird species and vulnerable habitats that are protected by law.
Views are being sought on what more can be done to manage the sites and how to help people change certain aspects of their behaviour in order to reduce the risk of disturbance to wildlife.
Cllr Kevin Lake, Teignbridge District Council's Executive Spokesperson for Environmental Services, said: "This is a really important issue that needs to be handled sensitively. We are all really keen for people to have their say on the way forward and the survey is quick and easy to complete."
Cllr Rachel Sutton, Exeter City Council's Lead Councillor for Sustainable Development and Transport, said: "We are very fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the world and naturally people will always want to get out and take advantage of what the area has to offer. That's not to say we can't carefully manage it for the sake of the natural habitats and the wildlife that it contains."
The authorities are looking at how recreational users of these sites can continue to use the countryside whilst ensuring protection for the species and habitats that make it special.
Cllr Phil Twiss, East Devon District Council's Deputy Cabinet Member for Environment, said:"The population in the area is increasing and that is something we have to plan for. Part of the process here is how we deal with it with carefully and best protect the local environment that is so special to everyone. In East Devon our Local Plan is also open to public consultation at the moment, and this survey complements it perfectly, helping people have their say about this outstanding place and its future."
People are being encouraged to complete a survey by going to www.surveymonkey.com/s/surveyrecreation2012
The survey will be online until 9 December 2012. It is also available to view through the website of each authority.