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Covid-19 Update 18/5/20

Following the government’s review of the Covid-19 situation on 11/5/20, we would like to offer an update from the Cotswolds Conservation Board. The government has said that we should all still try to stay at home as much as possible, but that we can also now enjoy more outdoor exercise (with members of our own households), and we may travel to open spaces. This is good news – it’s good for our bodies and our minds to get outside and connect with nature.

With this in mind, we’d like to remind those who are looking to enjoy the countryside on their doorstep of the following:

  1. We must still all observe social distancing guidelines, even outdoors and in the countryside.
    If a walking path is narrow, wait for others to pass. Be patient.
  2. Respect those who live here.
    Many of our countryside residents and landowners are older and fit into the ‘vulnerable’ category of those at risk from coronavirus. Help protect their health by remembering good hygiene around gates and stiles, being considerate about where you park, and looking out for and adhering to any route diversions (which may be in place to protect those on farms, for example asking walkers not to go through the yard, or not to go past the house etc).
  3. Plan your visit – try to avoid the honeypot locations (towns and countryside); research where you’re going to park; and check if the locations and car parks you’re heading to are open. Download self-guided walking routes.
  4. Remember the Countryside Code. Stick to it. If you don’t know it, learn it here.
  5. Tread carefully – remember that during lockdown, nature has reclaimed space!
    Please be very careful not to disturb wildlife. This might include ground-nesting birds, wildflowers, or animals that may have moved into areas unexpectedly during lockdown.
  6. Please use your common sense – keep dogs on leads and pick up their mess, don’t release sky lanterns, don’t have barbecues or bonfires, don’t drop any litter.
  7. Many local businesses are still closed – plan ahead, and bring food and drink with you…but please take your litter home!
  8. Many toilet facilities will be closed – please check before visiting.

Take your time, and breathe – these are strange times, but we can take this opportunity to slow down, understand, enjoy and appreciate our surroundings more. Nature has a wonderful ability to help us to heal, and we should make the most of that, and be grateful for it.


Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.

At the time of writing this, the government is still urging us all to stay at home this Easter. Our collective effort is crucial – we must all continue to follow advice and guidance on how to slow the spread of Covid-19 and look after our NHS, and one another.

If you are able to access outdoor green spaces, there’s no doubt that being outside and having the opportunity to connect with nature is good for us. Many of our colleagues and friends in other nature and conservation organisations have been posting up lots of ideas of how to do this. We’ve put together a little collection of these. From wildlife surveying and identifying, to building bug hotels, to going on virtual safaris, we hope you manage to enjoy some of what nature has to offer from the comfort of your home.

It’s vital that we do that in line with government advice though, so if you need a reminder on the guidelines, please click here for the official advice on accessing green spaces.

And remember: stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.

  • Create a haven for butterflies in your garden – and learn to identify visitors
  • Count pollinators in your garden. All you need is 10 mins to watch insects. To Learn how, and see where to send your results
  • Become a back garden bird watcher! RSPB have a fantastic online bird identification tool. See how many different birds you can spot! Or, if you can hear the birds but not see them – use their birdsong identifier instead!
  • Get the buzz! Bumblebee Conservation has a great learning zone online with absolutely loads of fun activities and games for children and families.
  • Do you love whales and dolphins? Head over to ORCA’s at-home interactive lessons, Q&A sessions, and activities.
  • See what you can do at home to help nature and wildlife with NatureHood’s online guide 
  • Is the night sky really dark where you live? If it is, and the weather is clear, can you see the stars? Wrap up warm, take a hot drink into the garden, and learn more about planets, stars, and constellations, and how to identify them here.
  • Want to sit down to watch or listen to something? There are plenty of episodes of BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth available on the iplayer – across a huge range of subjects!
  • Listen to the nation’s favourite, Sir David Attenborough, read us The Peregrine by JA Baker. A masterpiece of nature writing.
  • Go on a three hour safari without leaving the house! Wild Earth has posted a brilliant safari experience on YouTube
  • Wildlife Watch on You Tube – Wednesday sessions for kids to learn about identifying bird song, fun crafts, wildlife gardening & lots more
  • Stay wild at home with great ideas from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust 
  • Become a Nature Doctor and turn your back garden into an Insect A&E with Dr Amir Khan
  • Help Butterfly Conservation with their ongoing mission to help butterflies and moths in the UK by letting them know what you’ve seen in your garden! They’ve even developed an app to make surveying easier!

Image shown by Simon Smith.


Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives. 

It’s a simple message, and we should all be following the guidelines set out by the Government. If you don’t know them yet, or you aren’t clear, have another look here.

Under normal circumstances, we would be encouraging everybody to get outside, get some fresh air, get walking, start exploring. But these aren’t normal circumstances. At the moment, we would urge everyone to do the opposite: stay at home, don’t drive unless it’s essential, do your part. There have been a number of reports locally and nationally of people driving to enjoy beauty spots or to access their exercise, or gathering in groups in parks or areas of countryside. Please don’t do this. Please stay in your local area to get out in the fresh air, or to go for a walk/run/cycle. Please be responsible.

When all this is over, the national landscapes of the UK, our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will be throwing their arms wide open to welcome visitors back. But for now, we are all asking everyone to

Stay at Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.


COVID-19: Update 24/3/20

Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation last night (23/3/20) we have now amended our working practices further.

In line with the latest guidance from UK government, the Cotswolds Conservation Board team will now be working from home until further notice. The office will not be open, but it will be staffed by one team member from 10am – 3pm, Mondays to Thursdays.

Please bear with us as we adapt to these new working practices, and as we try to keep up with phone calls. If you are able to email the colleague you need and exchange direct phone numbers, that would be very helpful. All available email addresses are here.

As this situation progresses, we will aim to post all our updates on the Latest News page of our website, and on Facebook and Twitter.


COVID-19 – office update

Following the latest guidance from UK government, the Cotswolds Conservation Board team will now largely be working from home. We will have alternating skeleton crews in the office from Monday 23rd March. All employees will work from home on Fridays until further notice.

Please bear with us as we adapt to these new working practices, and as we try to keep up with phone calls. If you are able to email the colleague you need and exchange direct phone numbers, that would be very helpful. All available email addresses are here.

As this situation progresses, we will aim to post all our updates on the Latest News page of our website, and on Facebook and Twitter.


COVID-19 – Guided Walks Postponed from March 19th Until Further Notice

Cotswolds Conservation Board is closely monitoring the situation with regards to the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes close attention to the latest guidance from the WHO (World Health Organisation), as well as from UK authorities.

In light of Government guidance for the Covid-19 pandemic to avoid non-essential social contact, we have taken steps to cancel the Cotswold Wardens walks programme from end of the day on Thursday March 19 until further notice.

Please check the website for updates, but subject to any changing advice, please try out one of our many self-guided walks that can be found at https://www.cotswolds-nl.org.uk/visiting-and-exploring/walking/self-guided-walks/


Cotswolds Conservation Board brings quarry stakeholders together

Photograph of Guiting Quarry (Copyright: Paul Keyte, The Johnston Quarry Group)

The Cotswolds Conservation Board has initiated and organised a quarry stakeholder meeting relating to the cluster of eight quarries between Naunton and Toddington in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The meeting was held on 29th January at Toddington Village Hall and was attended by 43 participants, including representatives from the quarry operators, parish councils, local authorities and the Conservation Board.

One of the special qualities of the Cotswolds AONB that makes the area so unique and distinctive is the unifying character of the limestone geology, including its use as a building material. However, ensuring a sufficient supply of this building material depends on having a sufficient level of quarrying within the AONB. In addition, there is demand for this stone as a building material outside the AONB, as well as demand for other quarry products, such as aggregate and lime.  The challenge is to get the right balance between providing these quarry products and conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the AONB as a whole.

Getting the right balance is particularly challenging in the Naunton-Toddington area, where eight quarries operate in close proximity to each other and where the associated lorry movements are on minor roads and B roads passing through rural villages and parishes. This close proximity means that the potential cumulative impact of the quarries is a key issue, which needs to be addressed in a holistic way.

The purpose of the quarry stakeholder meeting was to bring together relevant stakeholders to find out if there was consensus on the need for a holistic approach across this quarry cluster and, if so, what this holistic approach might mean in practice. The meeting was run by an independent facilitator to help ensure that it provided a positive forum for discussion and debate.

Speaking about the meeting, John Mills, Planning and Landscape Officer at the Cotswolds Conservation Board, said, “We were delighted that this meeting was so well attended by representatives from key businesses and organisations relating to quarrying in the area. The meeting proved to be a helpful discussion which improved knowledge and understanding around quarrying, and addressed a number of key questions about the issues that arise from it. We also spoke constructively about how we might work on these issues together in the future.”

Paul Keyte, from the Johnston Group (who are involved with two of the quarries in this cluster) said, “We were pleased to participate in the stakeholders meeting about the area around our quarries.  We believe all parties would benefit from good engagement helping to understand each other better. We know our quarries are part of the local community and going forward we want to be the best neighbours we can be.”

Temple Guiting Parish Council said, “We welcome the Cotswold Conservation Board’s initiative to bring together relevant stakeholders to review the challenges quarrying can bring to the AONB, particularly to communities in the North Cotswolds. We support local quarrying for the production of local limestone to preserve the heritage of this area, in particular for dry stone walling and building. We look forward to continuing to work with the Board on the next steps, which should give all parties greater understanding of the industry and its improved interactions with our local communities.”

It is anticipated that the next step will be to set up a steering group to take forward the ideas and suggested actions that were discussed at the quarry stakeholder meeting.

 

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • Please contact Alana Hopkins at hopkins@cotswolds-nl.org.uk / 01451 862 003 for further information or interview opportunities.
  • The Cotswolds 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 Conservation Board’s purposes are to:
    -conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Cotswolds AONB
    -increase understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the AONB, ensuring that these complement the conservation and enhancement of the area
  • The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 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.
  • The land management position statements are for use by local authorities, government agencies, land agents, advisers, land managers, farmers and the public. They, along with the planning and transport position statements are available on the Cotswolds Conservation Board’s website.
  • 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 13 National Parks in England and Wales visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk.
  • A report of the quarry stakeholder meeting is available from the Cotswolds Conservation Board upon request.

 


Press release: Board launches new landscape enhancement project

This month, the Cotswolds Conservation Board has initiated a new two year project – the Cotswolds AONB Rail Corridor Enhancement Project – funded by Network Rail, which aims to address the adverse impacts of electrification works which have been carried out along a 10km section of the Great Western Main Line railway.

The funding has been provided to develop, manage, and deliver the work, which will focus on two key areas:

  • Line-side planting and other schemes which help to mitigate the visual and landscape impact of the electrification works, within a 6km-wide corridor

and

  • Schemes across a wider area of the Cotswolds AONB, to compensate for the adverse impacts of the electrification works by contributing to the Board’s statutory purposes.

The Conservation Board anticipates that most of the funding will be allocated through a grant programme. This will involve working in partnership with local landowners and communities, with a core focus along the 10km stretch of railway line between Old Sodbury and Alderton in the South Gloucestershire section of the AONB.

The project will be run by a new team member at the Conservation Board – Project Officer Scott Brown. Scott will be working with the Conservation Board in a part time role, and comes to the Board from the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE), an organisation which raises funds and allocates grant for environmental projects in the county. Scott will also continue to work part time as TOE’s Development Officer. In this role, Scott has helped develop a strategic plan to ‘scale-up’ TOE’s activities; as well as leading on the development of TOE’s biodiversity net gain programme, which has secured over £300,000 from developers to fund habitat creation and enhancement projects. This programme built on TOE’s successful Network Rail biodiversity offsetting programme, which allocated approximately £800,000 for habitat projects in Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Scott’s previous roles have included working for the Environment Agency and Defra in stakeholder engagement roles.

Speaking about his appointment, Scott said:  “I’m delighted to have joined the Cotswolds Conservation Board team.  The Project Officer role will dovetail well with my current position at the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment, my experience is well suited to this new role, and I am excited to start working with communities in the area.”

Andy Parsons, Chief Executive of the Cotswolds Conservation Board said, “We’re pleased to welcome Scott to the Board. We were delighted to have secured the funding from Network Rail for this project, and hope that people across the AONB will engage with Scott and the grant programme to help us take care of this beautiful landscape.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • Please contact Alana Hopkins at hopkins@cotswolds-nl.org.uk / 01451 862 003 for further information or interview opportunities.
  • The Cotswolds 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 Conservation Board’s purposes are to:
    -conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Cotswolds AONB
    -increase understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the AONB, ensuring that these complement the conservation and enhancement of the area
  • The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 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.
  • The land management position statements are for use by local authorities, government agencies, land agents, advisers, land managers, farmers and the public. They, along with the planning and transport position statements are available on the Cotswolds Conservation Board’s website.
  • 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 39 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland.  For further details, visit: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk. For details of the 13 National Parks in England and Wales visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk


Finance Officer Vacancy

We are looking to appoint an experienced Finance Officer to work closely with our new Chief Executive as the organisation enters an exciting new phase.

Is this you?

The Cotswolds Conservation Board’s new Finance Officer will be a qualified accountant with a minimum of three years’ experience in financial management, accounting and budget preparation. Knowledge of public sector accounting practices would be an advantage but not essential.

Ideally, you will be the kind of person that is always keen to drive improvements – introducing smarter and better ways of doing things. We are an organisation that strives for continuous improvement in everything we do.

Alongside the Chief Executive, you will lead on business planning – helping to identify opportunities for sustainable development whilst ensuring the organisation is aware of, and managing, potential risks to its future growth.

And we’re all doing this to ensure that the well-loved landscape of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty continues to be enhanced and enjoyed by everyone.

Salary £35,658-£38,907 pro-rata
Hours 22.5 hours per week (working pattern to suit candidate)
Location Northleach, Gloucestershire

For an informal discussion please contact Andy Parsons, Chief Executive, on 01451 862000.

For a job description and details on how to apply visit www.cotswolds-nl.org.uk/jobs or contact Della Morris on 01451 862000.

Closing date:              Monday 10 February 2020, 12pm.

Interview dates:         Week commencing 17 February 2020.


FarmED is open for business!

Side view of FarmED

 

FarmED is the new centre for farming and food education based at Honeydale Farm in the Cotswolds. At the heart of the farm’s 107 acres will be three impressive eco-buildings. One provides space for conferences, lectures, workshops and special events. This building has been supported by the Cotswolds LEADER Programme and is now open. Building two will be a farm to fork kitchen and food education space, and a regenerative business incubator (planned for June 2020). Farming operations will utilise building three from spring 2020.

FarmED’s mission is to accelerate the transition towards regenerative farming and sustainable food systems by providing space and opportunity for inspirational education, innovative research, practitioner-led knowledge exchange events, and personal development. The space can be hired for a meetings, conferences, workshops or special events, and you can visit for a farm walk and talk, or join the FarmED Programme: Regenerative Agriculture and Sustainable Food (being developed for launch in summer 2020). More info at https://www.farm-ed.co.uk/