Start Date: 01/01/2021 End Date: 31/03/2026
The aim of the Triple Axe catchment project is to align existing and define new activity in the Axe catchment required to address key issues impacting the catchment’s ability to function more naturally (through natural processes), support thriving habitats and species, be resilient and provide a range of public goods and services to Axe communities and wider society.
Phase 1 – Triple Axe Action Plan
The Triple Axe Action Plan (2021-26) was developed in a phase 1 in early 2021, following an extensive process of consultation with professional stakeholders and interest groups. It proposed a comprehensive and integrated catchment-wide approach to tackle the extremely challenging situation on the River Axe SAC, which is facing continuing decline in its condition despite significant efforts over many years, including through Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) and regulators (via the Environment Agency).
Triple Axe will integrate, align, support, and add value to this existing significant effort. It represents a completely new approach to the long-standing problems faced on the Axe, by developing Farm Transformation Plans (FTPs) which enable farms to either partly or completely restructure their operation in order to reduce their impacts on water quality, at the same time as aiding nature recovery and delivering wider benefits for the environment and people.
Recovering the River Axe SAC is a major priority for the East Devon Catchment Partnership and for many organisations active in the area. High level targets have been agreed between the Environment Agency, Natural England and the farming industry over the next 3-5 years, in order to avoid a Water Protection Zone. These target outcomes are highlighted in the diagram (at the end of this document).
Phase 2 – Feasibility
The next step in the process of developing the Triple Axe approach is to test the feasibility and effectiveness of the concept. Farm Transformation Plans (FTPs) are a new approach and are untested, so the first and essential step is to pilot the approach.
During the feasibility phase, from November 2021 – February 2022, we carried out research with farmers to test the concept and feasibility of the FTPs in up to three sub-catchments of the River Axe, potentially one in each of the three AONBs (plus also in the ‘white space’ in-between).
Additional capacity is included in the project to support project development and planning for the roll-out of the approach at scale in the next phase.
The project will be coordinated by a Steering Group of the East Devon Catchment Partnership.