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River Yealm, Devon

River Yealm

The River Yealm
River Yealm Info

The source of The River Yealm, Yealm Head, is 1450ft up on Dartmoor.

Distance from source to sea
The distance of the River Yealm is about 12 miles from source to sea.

Ownership Of The Yealm Estuary
The upper part of the Yealm Estuary is owned by the Bastards at Kitley Estate. Further down it is owned by The Crown.

River Yealm Weather & Tides

Today's Tides (River Yealm Entrance)
Adjusted for BST. Heights in meters.
high tide: 0429 4.7 m - low tide: 1039 1.7 m
high tide: 1652 5.0 m - low tide: 2309 1.4 m
calm-glassy sea state estimated for local waters.
....More River Yealm tide times

Current Weather
Temp: 16.8°c ( 62.2°f ) with a heat index of 16.8°c .
Wind: calm , force 0 bft n .
Baro: 994.1 mb and steady .
....More River Yealm weather

River Yealm Weather Forecast
Produced by on
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....See River Yealm 9 Day Forecast
Warning! Use of this information is subject to the following disclaimer.

Industrial Damage To The River Yealm

FaceBook Group
Save The River Yealm

The River Yealm is in grave danger from upstream developments, in particular, the Proposed Development of a Landfill and Incineration Plant on the banks of The River Yealm near Lee Mill. This is not just a "not in our back yard" issue. It's a real issue which could effect the river, it's fisheries, and the people who enjoy the river. Please read the following articles which help to explain the situation in more detail.

There is now a FaceBook group - Save The River Yealm - please join!

The closing date for objections to the proposed development is April 19th 2010 - please act now!
Send your objection to;
The Planning Officer, DCC, County Hall, Exeter EX2 4QW

Want to help make people more aware of this? Please print this poster, and post it up some where where other will see it - even in the back of your car, so long as you post it legally, that's fine!

On Saturday 13 March at 2.30pm, CAVIL - the Campaign Against Viridor's Incinerator & Landfill, has organised a public meeting at Ivybridge Community College from 2.30pm.

Come along and find out how you can submit your objection to the incinerator to Devon County Council and how you can encourage other people to do so too.

Find out more details here:

The following is a letter from a local land owner (name removed by request - unfortunately!)


1) As you can see from the attached map, the Yealm is a very short river that suffers a
high degree of exploitation from South West Water (clean water taken from Dartmoor
and seven Sewage Treatment Works on the catchment discharging into this very short
spate river).We will ignore all the other water quality issues of mega industrial estates,
china clay workings and proposed new towns discharging into the river.

2) South West Water has its cake ...... and now it wants to eat it. Their waste subsidiary
Viridor wants to take all the waste -both trade and household- from the West of England
and incinerate and/or landfill on the banks of the Yealm in an old gravel pit just south of the

3) The site is one of 87 that Devon County assessed and scored in 2006. It ranked equal
60th of the 87. It is in the property portfolio of a company which develops waste sites. It is
suddenly the most favoured option in Devon and is being “unofficially” promoted by Devon
County Council.

4) To gain access, a road is being built along the river, through ancient woodland, and then
a new bridge to span the river (no consultation with riparian owners to date, nor
acknowledgement that we exist). This road will carry up to 150 HGV lorries per day, 7 days
a week for the proposed 25 year life of the site.

5) Above is the link to the Viridor planning application, which, as you might imagine, is a
hymn to the joys of landfill and incineration, particularly on this ʻhighly suitable and
appropriateʼ site.

6) They can prettify it all by calling it Energy from Waste and a Resource Recovery
Centre. The application shows how carefully they have chosen the colour to paint the
buildings and the disabled access and parking. However, it skates over the fact that, in
addition to incinerating and recycling, they propose to line and fill some big holes (just
under 1,000,000 cubic metres of big holes!) that are below the water table with household
and industrial waste ....... on the banks of a river that is already struggling to survive as a
salmonid river with over-exploitation of its ever-diminishing resources.
The Yealm catchment is showered with fancy sounding acronyms to safeguard it. It has
SSI's, AONB's, EU Special Area of Conservation, Shellfish Waters Directive, County
Wildlife Sites and so on. When the chips are down, they don't seem to count for much.

7) It would seem that Viridor and Devon County Council think that, with a little bit of
window-dressing, they can steamroller this through.

If you don't agree with their plans, please object, either online (via the link above or on DCC's Home Page there is a link to New England) or in writing to;
The Planning Officer, DCC, County Hall, Exeter EX2 4QW.
The closing date is April 19th provides more info on the toxic bottom
ash residue from the incinerator side of the operation and also about the dioxin build-up
from the 90 metre high chimney stacks and more detail on all the other issues.

View as PDF

The following is an article submitted by Tony Maskell, an international marine biologist, oyster farmer on The Yealm for many years, and a friend to many on and around The Yealm.

The River Yealm rises 430 metres above sea level on the Stall Moor mires of south Dartmoor and makes its 15 mile journey to the sea passing through the Cornwood, Lee Mill and Yealmpton, before reaching the estuary mouth just below Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo.

The River Yealm is a short river which used to support relatively large stocks of salmon, sea trout and brown trout. But its water quality and fish stocks have plummeted over the past sixty years, despite former pollution from the Lee Moor China Clay Works being reduced to nearly nil, over that time. More water is abstracted than should be taken from a river of this size and sold very expensively to the local community which also pays dearly for second-rate sewage services which can over-load the depleted river with only partly treated effluent. The river sometimes also receives polluted surface water from occasional industrial "accidents" on the Lee Mill Industrial Estate.

The Yealm estuary, which has supported a productive oysterage since Norman, and possibly Roman, times has also received more than its fair share of pollution in the form of tri-butyl tin in antifouling paint, tested here since the early 1970s, but despite now being banned worldwide is still used by the Royal Navy. The estuary also receives periodic pollution from the brickworks at Steer Point. All this pollution is a waste of what is probably the most fertile stretch of natural seawater in the UK, especially as we will need it as a nursery for the animals and plants we will have to farm for food, on the bottom in cages off-shore, before the end of 21st century when terrestrial droughts and floods are expected to become much more frequent.

The fertility of estuaries relates to the fact that when different water masses meet there is usually a bloom of the phytoplankton, which can double its numbers/mass every 24 hours, but nude microscopic algae multiply so quickly they can consume all the available plant nutrients until one nutrient is absent and they return to dormancy. But when two bodies of water meet, as they do in estuaries, it is unlikely that the same nutrient is missing in both. Here, the River Yealm and its estuary are well-matched, so the fresh and sea waters mix in approximately ideal proportions while there is always a reservoir of blooming mixed water that is not washed out to sea at low Spring tides. Other South Devon estuaries are less well-blessed: some, like Salcombe, receive too little fresh-water while some, like the Dart receive too much, at least for ideal shellfish production.

However, the estuaries of South Devon and South Cornwall between Start Point and Lizard Head receive yet another boost to their productivity from the mixing of English Channel and Atlantic Ocean waters, the interface between which is so productive that the area of intensive algal bloom can be photographed from space and is called a TIDAL FRONT which migrates like a serpent with its head towards the shore between the above two headlands.

When it is good condition, the Yealm estuary is probably the most fertile stretch of natural sea water in the UK and it has had a Several Fisheries Order for oysters and mussels on one eleven area section, called the "CROWN FISHERY", which is mainly about ten feet deep at low water Spring tides, since 1914, a large copy of the chart of which is to be found on the stairs at the SHIP INN, Noss Mayo.

View/download a PDF file containing a map that clearly shows the threats The River Yealm faces.

Please tell others about these articles, and in particular, the threat to The River Yealm from the proposed development of the landfill and incinerator site on the banks of the river!




About The River Yealm

The River Yealm shares it's source with the River Erme high up on Dartmoor. It reaches the sea and becomes a tidal estuary just after it has flowed through Yealmpton. Rights to use the Yealm estuary for boating are now shared between Newton Ferrers, Noss Mayo, Wembury, Brixton, and Yealmpton who all have their banks on the Yealm Estuary or creeks.

The Yealm Estuary has long been used for cultivating oysters, although during the late 1980's pollution on the river became so bad that the then oyster farmer, Tony Maskell, was forced out of business. Since then the river has recovered to a degree, and some oyster farming is now taking place again. However, with many upstream developments soon to take place, such as the large Sherford New Town development, and Langage Power Station, as well as the existing industrial estates and sewerage treatment plants that use the Yealm, the river could once again be under threat.

The River Yealm Harbour is a natural harbour situated on the last leg of the River Yealm before it joins the sea. The harbour basin (referred to locally as The Pool) does not dry out at low tide making it a favourable mooring location for fin keel yachts. Moorings are of the swinging variety. Calls for a marina to be built have, thankfully, been rejected on several occasions, on the grounds that it would spoil the look and character of the harbour, and increase the number of boats which are already overburdening the current system. The waiting list for a mooring in the harbour is currently about 20 years. Private moorings are also available further up the estuary from Rodney Bastard of Kitley Estate.

A large creek breaks away from the harbour towards the East that separates Newton & Noss. This is Newton Creek, and runs up to Bridgend with Newton Ferrers on the Northern side, and Noss Mayo to the South, with it's own smaller creek. Newton creek dries out at low tide, when it can be crossed on foot.

From the harbour the River Yealm turns to the West then South West where it opens up into a wide valley which joins onto the sea. At this point the Yealm has one final surprise up it's sleeve (especially for unsuspecting yachts) in the form of a sand bar which crosses the mouth leaving just a narrow channel to navigate through to the Southern edge. The sand bar only becomes visible on a low spring tide, and is marked by navigation buoys.


Horse Riding

Enjoy horse & pony riding at Newton Ferrers Equestrian Centre. Learn to ride at a fully equipped riding school. We also offer hacks, livery and we run a quarter horse stud.

Newton Ferrers Equus

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