River Dart Charter at Dartington

Water is a living entity that we all share and benefit from. While the banks and river bed of the River Dart are owned, the health of living water is a common pool resource entrusted to us all. The movement of water through its cycle of rain, rivers, seas and clouds is essential for the maintenance of all life.

What is a charter? >

Charter commitments

We the people who live, work and play here, name ourselves as stewards of the water in our catchment. We therefore uphold the rights and responsibilities of the River Dart from Staverton Weir to Totnes Weir:

To be alive and to thrive so that it can give life and enjoyment to all.

To be clean and unpolluted so that it can enable biodiversity to flourish.

To flow freely from source to sea so that it can be a vital part of a healthy eco-system.

In this place of Dartington we especially value and name as our shared assets:

The river’s role as a wildlife corridor for otters, birds – especially kingfishers – and fish.

Healthy water in sufficient quantity.

Trees along the banks, particularly the oaks that give the Dart its name, and the stability of their roots.

A cherished river that enhances our mental and physical wellbeing, provides tranquility, beauty and memories – now and for future generations.

Respectful, agreed access along this sacred length of the river, from Staverton Weir to Totnes Weir, where we enjoy the water, both in, on and beside it.

putting the river dart first mean considering these needs...

  • Nature’s water cycle
  • Home for aquatic animals
  • Plantlife and trees
  • Wildlife

as well as our water-related needs and desires, such as...

Agriculture
Bathing
Boating
Car washing
Cleaning
Cooking
Diluting
Drinking water
Farming
Firefighting
Fishing
Gardening
Growing food
Health & wellbeing
Heating
Hydroelectricity
Ice making
Industrial cooling
Irrigation
Kayaking
Machinery operation
Medical/dental
Power washing
Pressure cutting
Purification
Recreation
Rinsing
Showering
Street cleaning
Swimming
Toilet Flushing
Transport
Washing

 Upholding the Charter

Two River Keepers will represent the river on behalf of the community: the Dartington Hall Trust’s Conservation Warden and a volunteer from the community. Both are tasked with representing the Charter/River at the Estate Environment and Conservation Group.

To report an incident in this stretch of the river from Staverton Weir to Totnes Weir, the Environment Agency should be contacted on their 24-hour incident hotline, 0800 80 70 60.

If the wellbeing of water is infringed, or our assets harmed, or there is conflict around use of the water the Estate Environment and Conservation Group will be a place of resolution.

This Charter for the Dartington stretch of the River Dart is held by The Dartington Hall Trust, and was created by Dartington Estate Team, The Bioregional Learning Centre, members of the local community and visitors to the Dartington Hall estate.

Sign the Charter now

The more of your show your support, the stronger our Charter is.

If you agree with the principles of the Charter, sign it now and help preserve the Dart for future generations.

The partnership between Dartington and the BLC

The Dartington Hall Trust is pursuing an agro-ecological approach that includes management of water in the landscape. The land along the river is mainly farmed, but also allows access to the public. Challenges include the competing needs of farmers, their stock, the people who want to use the river for recreation, the abstraction of water to supply local communities and the conservation needs of the ecosystem. The ‘Charter’ process will involve many local people in deliberating a shared values-based agreement on how to care for water in this four-mile stretch of the Dart traversing the Dartington Hall estate and Dartington Parish.

At the same time, the Bioregional Learning Centre has been working with the South Devon Catchments Partnership to prototype an innovative way to give communities a voice in managing the River Dart. Catchment partnerships were set up across England by DEFRA following the EU Water Framework Directive of 2000 which mandated that rivers should be managed from source to sea. The Dart is not currently managed from source to sea, and there is an opportunity here to include the voices of communities in what happens next. We have taken the first step towards trialling this approach and this is likely to be the first section of the Dart to have a River Charter.

Who are the BLC?

The Bioregional Learning Centre is leading the work on the Dart Charter. They are a Community Interest Company set up to operate as a ‘backbone organisation’: a trusted neutral player that works with multi-stakeholder partnerships. BLC is a member of the South Devon Catchments Partnership that was set up as part of a national initiative overseen by DEFRA and the Environment Agency following the EU Water Framework Directive.

The catchments-based approach has now been embraced by organisations across Europe, joining up many organisations and agencies that have responsibility for rivers or surrounding land in each watershed.

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