Skip to main Content

Arts Council England and National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty sign landmark Memorandum of Understanding

Red, white, blue, yellow and green globe shaped lights among the trees (suspended on rails just above the wooldand leaf covered floor ), lighting up the dark wooded area with a mesmerising colourful glow.

The Power of Art experimental research installation by Squidsoup, Cotswolds, 2022. ©Russell Sach

Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England and Philip Hygate, chair of the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB), have today signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding. It represents their commitments to working together to nurture new links between arts and cultural organisations, and England’s 34 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

Working in partnership under this Memorandum of Understanding means both organisations deliver on their own priorities, underpinned by joint ambitions to see more people engaging with culture and landscape, promoting opportunities, prosperity and wellbeing for rural communities, and contributing to conversations around tackling the climate emergency.

For years, AONB teams around the country have commissioned or partnered on awe-inspiring art installations and activities, and the Memorandum symbolises a step change in their commitment to partnering with culture organisations to develop high-quality, ambitious art that will reach and move people and communities across England.

In the Cotswolds, we are delighted to be collaborating with Squidsoup on The Power of Art – an experimental light installation – exploring technology, energy, and a sense of place.

The Power of Art is being funded by Stockton International Riverside Festival, and Arts Council England. Working with industry partner, Cleevely, this experiment will explore ways to power large scale light works off-grid with renewable energy. Cleevely have provided electric car batteries which have reached end-of-life status in vehicles, but could still have a use elsewhere.

Power has always been a precious commodity, and in 2022, events made this point clearer than it has been for decades. This project explores ways for renewable energy to be harnessed to power digital artworks like these, and in so doing, freeing them from previous constraints.

The Power of Art has been temporarily installed in a secret woodland location in the Cotswolds. Fifty illuminated orbs are powered by energy harvested through solar panels charging two second hand electric car batteries. The trial, testing the sustainability of the saved energy, uses a twelve minute performance cycle of pulses and glows set to a soundtrack, in order to see how long the work can sustain itself, to explore the feasibility of larger energy-saving installations, and to assess the reduction of power leakage in the conversion from kilowatt to dc voltage.

The Board of the Cotswolds National Landscape has signalled its commitment to creating greater links with arts organisations by endorsing the AONB Network’s Art in the Landscape Strategy. We are excited to see how this work develops nationally and locally over the coming years and we will be building greater links with our local cultural organisations.

The signing is hosted by Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership at Samphire Hoe Nature Reserve, as part of AONB’s Salt + EARTH: Festival of Landscape, Seascape and the Environment. The festival will see artists, creatives and scientists explore everything from geography to geology, sounds to sculptures, food to Deep Time. The festival is an exemplar of how when art, science and landscape come together, our understanding is deepened, but more importantly, our enjoyment and curiosity is fired.

Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England said: “The natural environment has inspired artists and writers through the ages. Today, awareness of our environment feeds our imagination, greatly benefits our wellbeing, and broadens our understanding of the climate challenges we face.

“Today’s signing represents further ambitions to deepen our appreciation and engagement with England’s rural landscapes, and their surrounding communities. Reflected through the Arts Council’s commitment to environmental responsibility, this Memorandum highlights the important, crucial connection between culture and the landscape.”

Philip Hygate, chair of the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty said: “England’s 34 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are deeply committed to working with art and culture organisations. We have seen that when AONB Partnerships and artists come together, the results add up to far more than the sum of their parts, creating experiences that will live long in people’s memories. This agreement with Arts Council England provides a framework for us to do more of this invaluable work and enable more people to develop a relationship with the landscapes on their own terms.”

ENDS


9th September 2022

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - image credit Chris Levine /Jersey Heritage Trust

Image: Chris Levine /Jersey Heritage Trust

We are deeply saddened by the news that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died last night.

The period of national mourning has started and will remain in place until seven days after The Queen’s state funeral. From today, we will temporarily suspend promotion of CNL work, including our social media activity, until after the period of national mourning concludes.

The Queen will be remembered for her 70 selfless years of devoted duty and service to the nation, the Commonwealth, and the world. Her Majesty’s consistency, faith, grace, wit, warmth and steadfastness are qualities that have inspired generations of people across the globe. We mourn an extraordinary and cherished Queen, one who leaves a lasting legacy, for which we are thankful.

We offer our deepest condolences to King Charles III and the Royal Family.

 

 


People invited to view once in a generation plans in the Cotswolds

An visualisation image of how Cleeve Common could look after pylon removal.

How Cleeve Common could look after pylon removal.

  • Removal of up to 20 pylons and 7 kilometres of overhead electricity line could transform the skyline to the east of Cheltenham and onto the Cotswold Plateau
  • Local people are welcome to attend any of a series of drop-in events to find out about the plans
  • National Grid developing proposals with the Cotswolds National Landscape Board and local experts

Exciting plans to remove up to 20 pylons and around 7 kilometres of overhead electricity line in the Cotswolds National Landscape are about to be shared with local people in Winchcombe and the Charlton Kings area of Cheltenham.

The project will see the pylons replaced with cables buried underground to significantly enhance the landscape and views as part of National Grid’s Visual Impact Provision (VIP) project*, which is a national programme to reduce the visual impact of existing high voltage power lines in protected areas across England and Wales.

A series of public information drop-in events will be taking place during August where visitors can view the plans, speak to members of the team and share their views:

  • Winchcombe Museum, High Street, Winchcombe, GL54 5LJ: Thursday 11 August, 10:00am–1:00pm 
  • Abbey Fields Community Centre, Back Lane, Winchcombe, GL54 5PR: Thursday 11 August, 3:00pm–8:00pm
  • Stanton Hall (Stanton Suite), Church Street, Charlton Kings, GL53 8AR: Thursday 18 August, 3:00pm–8:00pm
  • Winchcombe Country Show (hosted at Winchcombe School, Greet Road, Winchcombe, GL54 5LB): Monday 29 August (bank holiday), 1:00pm–5:00pm

Robbie Griggs, National Grid Lead Project Manager said: “By going underground in the Cotswolds, we’ll transform the skyline right across the stunning landscape of the Cotswold Plateau. The section that we’ve earmarked for removal runs from Postlip Mill in the north, right across the plateau avoiding the ancient woodland and steep slopes of West Down, and ending up near Dowdeswell Wood in the south.

“We’ve chosen this section following an extensive piece of independent landscape and visual impact research – which identified the plateau as one of the landscapes most affected by pylons anywhere in England and Wales. We’ve already started early investigations of the unique archaeology and ecology in the area with support from local experts, and we are talking to local groups such as parish and town councils, Cotswold voluntary wardens and the Cleeve Common Trust to share our emerging plans.”

National Grid will survey the area extensively and explore a range of potential routes for the new underground cables that would replace the pylons. Our plans will be developed and refined with the advice of local experts and community representatives including the Cotswolds National Landscape Board, Historic England, Natural England, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and the local authorities along the proposed route.

You can find out more via the project’s website (nationalgrid.com/cotswoldsvip) which includes information on the plans, next steps and will soon include a new virtual 360 tour where visitors can see what the landscape looks like now and how it could look once pylons are removed.

Andy Parsons, chief executive of Cotswolds National Landscape, said: “The Cotswolds National Landscape is the largest of all AONBs in England and Wales and spans 790 square miles.

“The last few years have been a reminder that our protected landscapes, our national parks and AONBs are really important for the health and wellbeing of our nation.

“The Cotswolds also has more pylons than any other protected landscape in England and Wales. That’s why we’re really pleased to be partnering with National Grid on this project which will reinvigorate the natural beauty of the area.”

Robbie Griggs concluded: “We really want the local community to get involved and have their say on our plans to enhance this special, protected landscape. If you’re a resident close to our intended route for pylon removal, you should be receiving a letter in the post. You’ll also be able to view our interactive 360 tour when it launches in the coming days, and you can contact us using any of the details below. We look forward to meeting you and hearing from you soon.”

To find out more about the Cotswolds VIP project, get in touch via:


Bathscape launches the Circuit of Bath walking trail

Image shows a group of people on a guided walk being led on one of the Circuit of Bath routes.

Nicole Daw leads a guided walk taking in a section of the 21 mile Circuit of Bath route. 

The Circuit of Bath takes in river, canal, meadows, woodland and peaceful valleys and provides a beautiful walk in any season.

It passes classic Bath landmarks in the landscape – Little Solsbury Hill, Beckford’s Tower, Dundas Aqueduct, the Kennet & Avon Canal, Millennium viewpoint and the Wansdyke. The route also includes the picture-perfect villages of Woolley, Upper Swainswick, Bathampton, Monkton Combe, South Stoke and Englishcombe. You can find more information here.

With its compact layout and surrounding hills and valleys, Bath is known as one of the most beautiful and most walkable cities in the UK.

Bathscape project manager, Dan Merrett, said: “This is a significant milestone in our project and one of which we are very proud. Through our project partner, Cotswolds National Landscape, we have made physical improvements to the route including installing waymarkers and we now have trail guides ready to use, splitting the route into four sections. Walkers can really challenge themselves whilst experiencing the best of Bath as a landscape city. We’re grateful to the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens and Bath Ramblers for all their work and to the players of the National Lottery, which is funding the project.”

Bathscape has worked with a large group of volunteers to complete the improvements and waymarking and has recently recruited a team of volunteer rangers to look after the route. Working with experienced wardens, volunteers have taken on a stretch of the route that they walk regularly, keeping it well maintained and easy to walk. The new rangers recently joined the volunteers who worked on the path improvements at a thank you event.

Councillor Mark Roper, cabinet assistant for Neighbourhood Services, said: “Many people enjoyed taking walks in their local area during the pandemic. This new walking route offers a longer connected path around our beautiful city and surrounding countryside. It’s also a great motivator for people who want to improve their fitness or wellbeing.  The Circuit of Bath walking route is accessible by public transport and the easy-to-use guides and waymarking will get you round safely.”

The route is based on the Julian House Circuit of Bath walk, which the Bath-based charity has been checking and refining every year since 2001. People looking for a challenge who want to try to walk the full distance in one day, can sign up to the Julian House sponsored walk on Sunday, 25 September. You can register for it here.  On this date, Julian House will provide check points, with water, snacks and toilets and a shuttle bus in case you want to shorten the walk. You’ll be able to raise vital money to support people experiencing homelessness and escaping domestic abuse.  The Julian House walk is the finale of the annual Bathscape Walking Festival, featuring 60+ walks on different themes and in different locations.

For a more leisurely approach to the route, the walk has been divided into four sections linking to public transport stops. The route maps, step by step instructions and travel information are available here. Walking it in sections is also great training for the sponsored walk! You’ll also find this and other walking trails on the Bathscape map.

A team of volunteers have been checking and rechecking the instructions, but continued feedback on the walk and the guides is welcomed, please get in touch with us at info@bathscape.co.uk.  Bathscape will continue working with Cotswolds National Landscape and Bath Ramblers to carry out more improvement works on the route.


One of our team has been awarded an MBE

Becky Jones, speaking to people in Bath at the start of the 102 mile Cotswold Way at 50 relay walk in 2021. Photo: Russell Sach

We are delighted to announce that Rebecca Jones, our Volunteer and Access Lead, is among those who have been awarded a Member of Order of the British Empire (MBE) in The Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022. Rebecca (Becky) has been recognised for her services to volunteering and the environment.

Every June, on Her Majesty’s official birthday, a list of Birthday Honours is published – showing people who have been awarded for their extraordinary contributions and service across the UK. This year’s publication of the list happened just as the celebrations for Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend began.

For over 20 years, Becky has been working with the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens to oversee conservation and access matters rights across the Cotswolds. She has remained steadfast in her commitment to the volunteer wardens across the Cotswolds throughout many organisational shifts and changes. She has seen the volunteer cohort grow to over 400 voluntary wardens today. Becky had no predecessor for her role, so has been instrumental in helping the wardens establish themselves as a ‘self-managing’ organisation working closely with the Cotswolds National Landscape team. She has implemented training for all elements of the voluntary wardens’ work, implemented record keeping, and forged a partnership working ethic which sees wardens working with Public Rights of Way (PRoW) teams to coordinate work on footpaths and bridleways.

The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens lead over 300 guided walks every year, and Becky has ensured that all walk leaders are fully trained in health and safety matters, map and compass reading, and emergency first aid. Attending a walk with the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens means people are in safe hands indeed.

Becky also observed that many of the volunteer wardens had existing skill sets which could be developed – and used this as the foundation to offer wardens more technical training – in dry stone walling, woodland coppicing, hedgelaying, and brushcutter and chainsaw use. Encouraging wardens to gain or maintain qualifications in these areas has equipped them perfectly with the skills and experience they need to help conserve and enhance the Cotswolds landscape.

Becky’s work encompasses so much more. She has championed young people for many years, by single-handedly initiating the education ‘branch’ of the voluntary warden body. Becky has always acknowledged that future conservation work will only be done if we inspire children and young people today about the importance and value of the Cotswolds landscape.

Bringing a personal touch to her work has been a constant theme throughout Becky’s career – she attends all the quarterly ‘district’ meetings the wardens hold annually – across all five districts. She checks in with wardens when they are unwell, and ensures those requiring any special arrangements have their needs met. She attends the funerals of wardens who have sadly passed away.

Becky, with no blueprint for how to harness the energy of these 400+ men and women, has shaped this group of volunteers into award winners. Today, the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens are known locally, nationally and internationally for their commitment, independent work, and for the scale of their activities. Their achievements were officially recognised by the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2018.

Andy Parsons, Chief Executive of the Cotswolds National Landscape said, “We couldn’t be more happy for Becky, or more proud of her. As a team, we work very closely – and so we see every day how hard Becky works, how dedicated she is, and how much extra she puts in. Seeing her awarded with an MBE is absolutely brilliant – she truly deserves it. Congratulations Becky!”

Becky Jones, MBE, Volunteer and Access Lead at Cotswolds National Landscape said, “I still can’t quite believe it. I’ve worked with the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens for many years, and many now feel like friends as well as colleagues – I feel very lucky to work with such an enthusiastic and active group of volunteers.”

Margaret Reid, Head Warden of the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens said, “Becky’s personal touch means that every warden knows her. We can all testify to her hard work and to her devotion to the work she does. It has been a pleasure to nominate her for such a prestigious award, and to see her honoured in this way.”


CNL responds to Government landscape consultation

An aerial image of the Cotswolds showing fields, woodland, and blue skies

Image: Squashed Robot Films

This week, the Cotswolds National Landscape Board has submitted its formal response to the government consultation around the Landscapes Review. The review was led by Julian Glover, and published in 2019, with an official government response delayed until 2022 by the pandemic. Following the government response, a public consultation ran until early April this year.

The response to the consultation from Cotswolds National Landscape focused on ensuring the nation’s protected landscapes (National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. Andy Parsons, Chief Executive, explained “for these treasured places to remain relevant we have to consider the key drivers of change – such as nature recovery, climate change, public health and enabling more connected communities. It is no longer enough to simply conserve and enhance natural beauty, we must recognise that all landscapes will evolve.” A priority for the Cotswolds will be to support farmers and land managers through a period of transition post-Brexit. The Cotswolds National Landscape team will champion environmental land management schemes that work for all farmers and land managers, and  the early signs of its potential are encouraging, demonstrated through the hugely successful Farming in Protected Landscapes programme.

Many residents in the Cotswolds will be aware that, for some time now, there has been a discussion around redesignation of the Cotswolds from an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to a National Park. There are many strong feelings for and against this – not least because the AONB covers a massive area (790 sq miles) and it doesn’t sit within any one local authority, indeed there are 15 district, county and unitary boundaries within the AONB. The Landscapes Review identified “strong candidates” for redesignation, including the Cotswolds. It suggested that Natural England and ministers considered the case for each candidate.

In its response to the Landscapes Review, Government hasn’t explicitly identified a possibility for a change in designation for the Cotswolds. Instead, Natural England has set up a Landscapes Advisory Panel, which is tasked with looking at designations at a national level across the whole of England. This work could possibly include reviewing the case for new AONB designations, and for potential redesignation from AONB to National Park for a small number of English landscapes, including the Cotswolds. The Chairman of the Cotswolds National Landscape Board, Brendan McCarthy, says “we look forward to participating in this review to ensure that our protected landscapes are fit for the 21st century, and that they best serve the needs of the local people, communities and nature throughout the whole of the Cotswolds National Landscape”.

The Cotswolds National Landscape team is looking forward to this new era for protected landscapes and acknowledge that to achieve success there will need to be a big team effort, working in partnership with Defra, local authorities, charities, businesses and local communities and individuals. The outcomes of the consultation will be published later in the year.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • Please contact Alana Hopkins at hopkins@cotswolds-nl.org.uk for further information or interview opportunities.
  • The Cotswolds National Landscape was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape. www.cotswolds-nl.org.uk
  • The Cotswolds National Landscape is looked after by an independent organisation (officially titled Cotswolds Conservation Board) established in 2004 which has a small employee team along with 37 board members – 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
  • The Cotswolds is the third largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas.  There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland.  For further details, visit: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk. For details of the 15 National Parks in the UK visit: www.nationalparks.uk


Over £950,000 in grant funding allocated across the Cotswolds

A herd of brown cows approaches the camera inquisitively as the sun sets in the background.

 

The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, being delivered in the Cotswolds by the Cotswolds National Landscape team, has already allocated almost one million pounds in grant funding since the programme launched in July 2021.

The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme was created and launched by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The aim of the three year programme is to help farmers, land managers, and others deliver work on the farmed landscape under the themes of climate, nature, people, and place.

Through the programme, farmers and land managers can be supported to carry out projects that support nature recovery, mitigate the impacts of climate change, provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and cultural heritage, or support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses. The programme is part of Defra’s Agricultural Transition Plan and has been developed with the support of a group of AONB and National Park colleagues from across the country.

In the Cotswolds, 38 projects have been approved so far, with allocated grants exceeding £950,000. With match funding included, the supported projects are valued at over £1.6 million in total project costs, representing a huge investment in the Cotswolds landscape.

Funding has been allocated to a wide range of creative and considered projects: from accessible paths across farmland showcasing organic arable and livestock farming; to owl and kestrel boxes, and farmland bird conservation helping support wildlife; to hedgerow creation and restoration to increase biodiversity and help capture carbon; a rural skills education centre to increase accessibility and education; to a demonstration farm highlighting regenerative farming and conservation grazing – applicants have impressed the assessment panel with the breadth of their projects, and their understanding of the key themes outlined by Defra.

The previous application deadline has now been dropped by Defra, so applications are now open until the end of the programme, or until the remaining funds (just over £1 million) are fully allocated – whichever happens first.

Scott Brown, Farming Engagement Lead for Cotswolds National Landscape, said, “It’s a real privilege to be working with farmers in the Cotswolds National Landscape. So many of them are genuinely committed to producing great quality food and looking after this special place for others to enjoy. With major changes in farming and environmental policy now well underway, coupled with the urgent need to tackle the climate and nature emergency, it’s a time of great uncertainty and huge challenges for the sector. But there’s clearly a willingness to adapt, and seize opportunities that will lead to a more prosperous future, not only for farmers, but for people, wildlife and the planet. This deserves our recognition and support. By funding and showcasing just some of the fantastic work farmers do in the Cotswolds, I hope the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme offers a bit of that recognition and support, and helps to lay the groundwork for more farmer-led activity in future.”

Farming in Protected Landscapes is a three year programme which will run until March 2024. More information can be found online at https://www.cotswolds-nl.org.uk/looking-after/farming-in-protected-landscapes/ or by emailing farming@cotswolds-nl.org.uk.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • Please contact Alana Hopkins at alana.hopkins@cotswolds-nl.org.uk for further information or interview opportunities.
  • For more information about the Farming in Protected Landscapes, please visit https://www.cotswolds-nl.org.uk/looking-after/farming-in-protected-landscapes/
  • The Cotswolds National Landscape was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape. www.cotswolds-nl.org.uk
  • The Cotswolds National Landscape is looked after by an independent organisation (officially titled Cotswolds Conservation Board) established in 2004 which has a small employee team along with 37 board members – 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
  • The Cotswolds is the third largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas.  There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland.  For further details, visit: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk. For details of the 15 National Parks in the UK visit: www.nationalparks.uk


Statement following Defra’s response to 2019 Landscapes Review

On Saturday 15th January 2022, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) issued a formal response to the Landscapes Review led by Julian Glover and published in autumn 2019. The review looked at England’s protected landscapes and sought to identify ways in which they could be revitalised and brought into the 21st century. The report argued that more must be done for nature and natural beauty, for the people who live in and visit our landscapes, and to introduce those who aren’t familiar with the countryside to get to know it. The report said that our national landscapes are for everyone and, in the Cotswolds, we believe in that too – wholeheartedly.

We are pleased that the long-awaited response from Government about the review has been issued. Defra now plans a 12 week consultation in which protected landscapes, other interested organisations, and members of the public will be encouraged to submit their feedback. We will also be attending Defra-hosted workshops with eagerness, and look forward to hearing the views of our fellow protected landscapes, and those working across them. The intention to strengthen what AONBs can do, and deliver, is one we support. We all have strong foundations of success to work from, but time is running out for nature and the environment – we must act now to make positive changes for everyone.

We are pleased to see that Government has identified the need and value in strengthening AONBs in order to deliver for both nature and people.

Brendan McCarthy, Chairman of the Cotswolds National Landscape Board, says, “We have a strong Cotswolds National Landscape team in place, and a wealth of expertise across our partner organisations. Further increased funding and resources would allow us to unlock the potential of the ambitions described in the Landscapes Review. Although Government has said that there is limited scope to increase core grants by the scale suggested in the review, we sincerely hope that Government continues to make meaningful increases to our overall funding in future. These increases will allow us to better realise the vision that we all have for the Cotswolds.”

One of the Landscape Review’s recommendations was a renaming of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) to National Landscapes. We implemented this in 2020 with a rebrand to Cotswolds National Landscape, and we are encouraged to see that this change will now, very likely, be rolled out across all other AONBs. This recommendation symbolises a more unified approach to how we work for people and nature as a collective presence of landscapes in the UK. In addition, we look forward to seeing how a progressive national partnership of National Landscapes – in which national parks, AONBs, Natural England, and the new National Trails charity – will be given more opportunity to work together to strengthen that collective offering. We look forward to exploring how the detail of this collaborative working will develop.

We are pleased that Government has acknowledged the importance of developing the statutory purposes and remit of AONBs to bring them into the 21st century – and that it has recognised the meaningful change it will make if those are expanded to include tackling climate change, helping nature recovery, and providing for people and society. Government has indicated that this is a priority and, alongside its ambitious and tough environmental targets, we feel that the expansion of our statutory purposes will allow us to do much more to meet these targets and to continue the vital role protected landscapes have to play for wildlife, people, and the nation as a whole.

Andy Parsons, Chief Executive of Cotswolds National Landscape team, says, “Among the many positives in Government’s response, we especially applaud the concept of supporting and rewarding farmers – they are an essential part of our economy and landscape, and should always be recognised as such. In the Cotswolds, we have made fantastic progress in allocating significant funding of around £500,000 to farmers and land owners/managers through the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme. This has been within the first six months of a three year programme, and we look forward to seeing the creative and considered ways in which people continue to apply to the programme.”

Finally, we welcome the emphasis on people and society – the countryside and our protected landscapes offer health and wellbeing benefits for everyone, which has been especially evident through the pandemic. We are ever-grateful to our band of Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, whose numbers have grown through the pandemic as people sought to be outside and in company. Volunteers – wardens, project volunteers, and others are the lifeblood of our work and must also be supported in their efforts. We hope that increased support and funding for the delivery of this public health work would give us opportunities to help more and more people enjoy – and look after – the countryside.

Have your say

The consultation will run for 12 weeks from today, closing on 9th April 2022. The consultation is open to everyone, and we encourage members of the public to get involved. This is the first major review of protected landscapes since they were first created over 70 years ago. This is a significant opportunity for people to shape how protected landscapes will deliver benefits for years to come.


New river project enters full flow with the arrival of new team members!

The new Everyone’s Evenlode project team (L-R): Rosalind Marsden, Ruth Rudwick, Rowan Wynne-Jones. Image by Russell Sach.

This January, the new Everyone’s Evenlode project, being delivered by the Cotswolds National Landscape team, picks up pace with the final member of the new team arriving in post.

Thanks to funding from Thames Water’s Smarter Catchment initiative for the River Evenlode (in partnership with the Evenlode Catchment Partnership), three new team members dedicated to education and outreach across the Evenlode catchment area have joined the Cotswolds National Landscape team. Rosalind Marsden has joined as the new Education Officer, Ruth Rudwick is the project’s Community Outreach Officer, and Rowan Wynne-Jones is the Community Outreach and Education Officer.

Thames Water’s River Evenlode Smarter Catchment plan aims to develop a programme of inspiring activities to show the relevance of the river and its catchment within the community. The new Everyone’s Evenlode team will help meet these aims by encouraging people to understand the amazing benefits of a healthy river environment; helping them access and enjoy nature; and by engaging with schools – to help inspire younger generations to connect with their local stretch of river, learn about healthy river environments and nature, and act to take positive action to care for and ecologically improve the River Evenlode.

Each member of the new team brings a specialism, and together, they will be developing an exciting programme of opportunities for people to wade right into caring for the Evenlode!

Ruth, who is combining her new role with finishing a wildlife conservation foundation degree at the Royal Agricultural University, will be working with youth and community groups to help them access the Evenlode. She says, “By exploring opportunities to enjoy the river, people also understand its environment more and that can lead to action to take care of it. It’s about enjoying and caring for the whole catchment area, even beyond the river itself: doing hedgerow surveys, or creating leaky dams to help with flood management, or building and putting up bird and bat boxes”.

Ros, whose previous roles have included a wealth of outdoor teaching for organisations like Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and the National Trust, is just as keen to get the project in full flow. She is enthusiastic about setting up a pilot River Schools project aimed at both primary and secondary students, similar in concept to Forest Schools. Ros will aim to offer a range of activities to choose from, for example pond dipping, tracks and signs, seasons and senses, possibly some rural crafting, a river walk, or learning related to water cycles.

Rowan joins the team as an experienced forest school leader, youth worker, and community outreach worker. Her hybrid role for Everyone’s Evenlode includes elements of both community outreach, and working with schools. She says, “Spending time in nature provides a multitude of benefits for people’s mental and physical wellbeing, from reducing stress levels and anxiety, to increasing fitness levels and general happiness, whilst simultaneously helping individuals to feel a greater connection to something outside of themselves. Providing children and young people with the opportunity to explore, learn about, and engage with their local watercourses can help spark a life-long passion for protecting the environment, as well as providing opportunities for memorable, hands-on learning.”

The team hopes that this project will help provide opportunities for members of the community to access stretches of the River Evenlode, and encourage them to find ways to engage with it that benefit both themselves and the environment.

Together, this aquatic dream team will be actively seeking schools and groups from right across the Evenlode catchment area to get involved in the project – hoping to inspire people from all walks of life to care about their Evenlode.

The Everyone’s Evenlode team is very keen to hear from schools, youth and community groups, landowners, farmers and individuals within (and close to) the Evenlode catchment area: if you would like to find out more or be involved in the Everyone’s Evenlode project, please email the team at evenlode@cotswolds-nl.org.uk.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • The Cotswolds National Landscape was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape. www.cotswolds-nl.org.uk
  • The Cotswolds National Landscape is looked after by an independent organisation (officially titled Cotswolds Conservation Board) established in 2004 which has a small employee team along with 37 board members – 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
  • The Cotswolds is the third largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas.  There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland.  For further details, visit: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk. For details of the 15 National Parks in the UK visit: www.nationalparks.uk


Stunning kingfisher sculpture trail concludes with fundraising auction

Andy Parsons (L) and James Webb (centre) from Cotswolds National Landscape, with Simon Chorley from Chorley’s Auctioneers. Image by Russell Sach.

Last Thursday, the Kingfisher Trail 2021 came to a celebratory close, with an atmospheric auction hosted by Chorley’s Auctioneers at Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham. Over the summer, the unique collection of 22 individually designed sculptures flew across the Cotswolds, and many came to perch for one night only at the auction, where they were snapped up by auction guests and remote bidders.

The Kingfisher Trail has raised around £60,000 – with several of the kingfishers snapped up by eager buyers in the weeks before the auction, and the remaining sculptures selling through the auction. The sales of the sculptures are a fantastic acknowledgement of both the creative talent and skills of the artists involved, and the willingness for bidders to support the work of the Cotswolds National Landscape team.

All the kingfisher sculptures have a personal story and were beautifully designed and decorated by participating artists. Each kingfisher carries the signature style of its creator, with surface decoration on the kingfishers inspired by a range of themes from climate change, to the pandemic, to the conservation of the Cotswolds countryside.

Now, as the kingfishers take flight to their new homes, funds raised by the Kingfisher Trail will be put towards work which engages young people with the Cotswolds countryside and traditional rural skills. After the confirmation throughout the pandemic of just how important our green spaces are, it is more important than ever before to inspire young people from all backgrounds to get outside into the fresh air, and involve them in projects which provide a sense of achievement and a positive outlook.

Andy Parsons, Chief Executive from trail organisers Cotswolds National Landscape, commented:

“Within three years we have an ambition for our Rural Skills Outreach programme to be largely self-financing – supported by the more commercial elements of our rural skills programme (courses, tourism experiences and corporate days). Unsurprisingly though, it’s these areas of our operations that have suffered badly over the past 18 months, and we are in the process of starting to rebuild. So, the funds raised through the Kingfisher Trail will be a massive help in ensuring we can continue to reach out to those young people who need it most.”

ENDS

Editors’ Notes – for high resolution imagery, please contact Alana Hopkins at Cotswold National Landscape – alana.hopkins@cotswolds-nl.org.uk