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The Cotswolds – a new National Park?

 

In 2018, Julian Glover began leading the Designated Landscapes Review, which was commissioned by the government in response to the 25 year Environment Plan.

Glover intends to publish a full report in the autumn.

Glover and his panel of six colleagues invited everyone to share their views around designated landscapes. 2,500 detailed submissions were received – and these were from organisations and individuals. We submitted our own responses, and published these on our site as a Position Statement and a set of FAQs.  The panel visited every national park in England, and in July 2019 had been to almost every national park in Scotland, as well as almost all the designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and many unprotected landscapes.

We posted a link to the interim findings letter from Julian Glover, sent to Michael Gove, in an earlier post. We were encouraged by the interim findings – which described the nation’s protected landscapes as not having “been given the tools, the funding and the direction to do the job”. Glover and his panel describe an erosion of “national zeal” for the founding mission for landscape protection. Their view is that there is a need to “reignite the fire and vision which brought this system into being in 1949. We need our finest landscapes to be places of natural beauty which look up and outwards to the nation they serve.”

The panel have acknowledged that more must be done for nature and beauty, and more for the people who live in and visit our protected landscapes. And, more should be done to help welcome those less familiar with the countryside.

The final report from the panel will provide views on new designations for National Parks. In the Conservation Board’s 2018 – 2023 Management Plan, we state that one of our four ambitions is to promote the case for the Cotswolds being designated as England’s next National Park. This booklet explores the case for a possible new Cotswolds National Park…


New Secretary of State appointees join the Board

Defra has confirmed three new Secretary of State appointees to the Cotswold Conservation Board, who are all set to take up their roles with immediate effect.

Dom Morris runs his family arable farm of around 1,100 acres near Cirencester, and has a wealth of experience as a military consultant and advisor. Dominic’s career has focused upon advising senior decision makers, civil servants, and military commanders on strategy and change management. Dom also has an interest in welfare reform – cutting his teeth running Prince’s Trust and Millennium Volunteers programmes for young people in Gloucestershire.

Graham Hopkins is a Chartered Engineer with a career spanning forty years. His last corporate role was as Safety, Technical and Engineering Director for Network Rail, and as part of that, he chaired the Rail Industry Technical Leadership Group. Before that, he spent many years with Rolls-Royce plc, including as Director of Engineering and Technology for Defence Engines. Graham has lived in the Cotswolds for over 15 years and is passionate about the Cotswold landscape and communities.

Brendan Costelloe is originally from Cheltenham, and has been working in planning and conservation for the last 15 years. His experience spans working in local government, in private practice, for the RSPB, and for the British Ecological Society. At the British Ecological Society, he works in the policy team which monitors the development of legislation and policies relevant to biodiversity and conservation.

Director of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, Martin Lane, said, “We’re delighted to welcome Dom, Graham, and Brendan to the Conservation Board, they have a wealth of skills and experience to apply to conserving and enhancing the Cotswolds and enabling people to explore and enjoy the AONB.”


Landscapes Review – interim update from Julian Glover

This month, Julian Glover has written to Michael Gove to detail interim findings from the Landscapes Review. This review was to consider the next steps for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty sites (AONBs) in England.

The letters can be viewed online here. 

We’re pleased to see this review moving along, and look forward to the complete report, which will be published in the autumn of 2019.


Celebrating a successful year of Sustainable Development Funding!

Applications to the 2019/20 Sustainable Development Fund offered by the Cotswold Conservation Board asked applicants to focus on projects which focused on education and young people across the Cotswolds AONB. A sum of £16,970 has been awarded to the three successful project applications…

The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum was awarded a grant of £7,200 to construct a roundhouse building to use as a training venue for their community outreach programme. The programme works with both school pupils and community groups, and offers courses from bushcraft skills and outdoor campfires with youth groups, to natural arts and craft projects with disadvantaged adults, and outreach sessions for those unable to visit. The outreach programme aims to .make a positive difference on peoples’ wellbeing.

The Royal Agricultural University was awarded a grant of £8,000 for a physical and educational hub. The hub will include an introductory workshop, field visits, practical investigations, and the dissemination of conclusions following project completion.

Stroud District Council (Cowle) Museum Trust has been awarded £1,770 to produce a Living Limestone event – which will centre on the construction of a dry stone wall. The event and the building of the wall will provide learning resources for subsequent incorporation into the museum’s displays.

The funded projects were successful because they demonstrated ambitions to provide educational experiences and services for local communities and young people; and because they had forward-looking approaches which would help communities continue to learn in the future.

 


Cotswolds Conservation Board plays key role in stopping harmful development

The Cotswolds Conservation Board recently successfully demonstrated the role it plays in protecting and enhancing the special qualities of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). A proposed major housing development in the AONB has been dismissed at appeal.  The proposed development, by CALA Homes, would have involved the construction of 68 dwellings in the village of Stonesfield, West Oxfordshire.  However, the planning inspector who led the public inquiry into the appeal concluded that the potential benefits of the scheme do not outweigh the highest status of protection that is given to AONBs.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board played a key role in the public inquiry, working in partnership with Stonesfield Parish Council and Sustainable Stonesfield to oppose the development. There were a number of reasons that the Board took on this role.  In particular, it considered that the appeal would be an important test of the West Oxfordshire Local Plan.

The Local Plan requires such housing development proposals in the Cotswolds AONB to demonstrate convincing evidence of needs specific to a particular settlement.  The planning inspector concluded that the CALA Homes proposal did not meet these stringent requirements.  As such, the proposal did not amount to the exceptional circumstances that would be required for planning permission to be granted.

The Board was also concerned about the adverse impact of the proposed development on the Cotswolds AONB. The planning inspector highlighted similar concerns and found that the development would cause significant harm to the character and appearance of the AONB.

The Board recognises the need to provide affordable housing in the Cotswolds AONB. However, as demonstrated by this appeal decision, housing development proposals in the AONB must provide convincing evidence of need arising within the AONB, down to the level of the individual settlement.  Even where there is exceptional need, great weight must still be given to conserving and enhancing the landscape and scenic beauty of the AONB.


Cotswolds Conservation Board continues ambitious meadow restoration project

PRESS RELEASE  11/06/19

Cotswolds Conservation Board continues ambitious meadow restoration project

Harvey Sherwood and Anna Field, from the Glorious Cotswold Grasslands project being run by the Cotswolds Conservation Board, have announced two free guided wildflower meadow walks this summer to help get people more familiar with the project. Open to everyone, including families, the walks will be held on 15th June and 6th July.

On the 15th June, climb on board for a tractor ride and guided wildflower walk across the limestone grassland at Whittington Lodge Farm, and learn more about this fantastic habitat and the Glorious Cotswold Grasslands project. Families are very welcome and plant hunt sheets will be provided for children. The walk will be up to 1 mile across rough grassland, with tea and biscuits afterwards. The walk on 6th July will be to celebrate National Meadows Day, and will be a guided 2 mile wildflower walk across the limestone grassland at Ampney Downs.

Curiously named flowers which might be spotted on the walks include Cotswold pennycress, pasque flower, oxeye daisy, common bird’s-foot trefoil, cowslip, and lady’s bedstraw. Grasslands and the flowers found on them support a host of wildlife too – including rare butterflies like the Chalkhill Blue and orange-flecked Duke of Burgundy, as well as insects, bats, birds, and small mammals.

Both walks are free, but booking is recommended. Please contact Harvey at harvey.sherwood@cotswolds-nl.org.uk or on 07841 663 603 to book a place.

A staggering 97% of species-rich grassland in England and Wales has been lost since the 1930s. Factors like urban development, and changes in farming practice and land management, mean that the Jurassic limestone grassland coverage in the Cotswolds has shrunk from 40% to just 1.5%. These disappearing grasslands are precious though – a typical patch can contain over 100 species of flowering plants.

A grant of over £200,000 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, boosted by a private donation, and fundraising from the 2018 Cotswolds AONB Hare Trail, has allowed the Cotswolds Conservation Board to launch Glorious Cotswold Grasslands – a project which aims to conserve, restore and create wildflower-rich limestone grasslands across the Cotswolds AONB. The intention is to create the largest network of wildflower-rich Jurassic limestone grassland in the country. To break the cycle faced by many projects of ‘boom and bust’ due to the temporary nature of funding, this project aims to become self-financing over the delivery period. During the project, there are plenty of volunteering opportunities available and other ways to get involved and help.

ENDS 

Notes to editors:

  • Please contact Alana Hopkins at hopkins@cotswolds-nl.org.uk / 01451 862 003 for further information or interview opportunities.
  • Image shown courtesy of Ian Boyd
  • For more information about Glorious Cotswold Grasslands, contact Harvey Sherwood at sherwood@cotswoldsaob.org.uk or Anna Field at anna.field@cotswolds-nl.org.uk
  • 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 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 15 National Parks in England and Wales visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk


Lady Ashcombe of Sudeley Castle to formally open new disabled access route around Winchcombe

PRESS RELEASE 4 June 2019

Lady Ashcombe of Sudeley Castle will be hosting the launch and formal opening ceremony of a new eight mile disabled access route around Winchcombe, at Sudeley Castle this month.

The new route will be suitable for all-terrain mobility scooters / Tramper-style vehicles, and has been developed and constructed by the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, the volunteer arm of the Cotswolds Conservation Board. Following the opening ceremony, a group of 13 people from Disabled Ramblers and their helpers, along with Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, and representatives from local government and the National Trust, will undertake the inaugural ‘walk on wheels’.

The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens have been working on accessible paths across the Cotswolds for over 20 years, but this new route marks the introduction of longer and more challenging routes for use by off-road mobility scooters.  The project marks their 50th anniversary, and has involved hundreds of hours of volunteer work installing gates, working on surface improvements and negotiations, and working closely with the Disabled Ramblers, landowners, and the Gloucestershire County Council rights of way team.  The route is available to download using the link below

https://www.cotswolds-nl.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Winchcombe-Tramper-WOW-CNL-Final-v1.pdf

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • Please contact Alana Hopkins at alana.hopkins@cotswolds-nl.org.uk / 01451 862 003 for further information or interview opportunities.
  • Plenty of photo opportunities at the opening ceremony.
  • The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens were established in 1968 and have continued to grow into the 300-strong membership of  today.  Anyone can join, all that’s required is an enthusiasm for the Cotswolds and a willingness to offer your time and skills to help keep the Cotswolds AONB special. In 2018, they volunteered 47,674 hours of work time, and were given the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
  • The Cotswold Wardens form part of the wider Cotswolds Conservation Board and the volunteer opportunities are variable.  There is something for everyone, from walling, to walks and talks, to tree planting.
  • 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 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 15 National Parks in England and Wales visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk


We’re recruiting!

The Cotswolds was originally designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 and extended in area in 1990. At 790 sq miles or 2,038 sq kms it is the largest of all the AONBs and third largest Protected Landscape in England, after the Lake District and Dales National Parks. It stretches South West from just south of Stratford Upon Avon in the north to Bath in the South.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board is an independent statutory body that works to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Cotswolds AONB, to increase understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities, and to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities.

The board seek to appoint a Chief Executive, to replace Martin Lane who retires later in the year after many successful years as its director.

The Chief Executive will be responsible for leading the operation and development of the Board. They will be the champion and lead spokesperson for the Conservation Board and AONB, promoting the vision and ambition of the Board through Board members, staff, volunteers, partners and other stakeholders.

For more information and to apply: www.berwickpartners.co.uk/72321


New Call for Project Applications

National Grid Landscape Enhancement Initiative (LEI)

Call for Projects in the vicinity of pylon lines ZF3 (Upper Coberley to Cirencester) and 4TE1 (Upper Coberley to Eastington)

Following a successful call for projects for the National Grid Landscape Enhancement Initiative earlier this year, the Board is issuing a further call, this time for pylon lines ZF3 which runs between Coberley and Eastington & 4TE1 which runs between Coberley and Cirencester

This £24 million grant scheme offers awards of up to £200,000 for projects to enhance landscapes containing or impacted by National Grid’s existing electricity transmission infrastructure.

Only the Cotswolds Conservation Board (the Board) can apply to the National Grid for this funding in the Cotswolds and we are inviting partners to put forward projects.

The deadline for submitting expressions of interest to the Board is the 14th June 2019 for projects commencing in May 2020.

Proposing a Project

The supporting Information below details information to help you develop ideas for projects, it contains:

  • The selection criteria.
  • The sort of projects they are interested in funding.
  • A map showing the approximate area impacted on by the power lines along with the landscape character types from the AONB Landscape Character Assessment.
  • Web links to: The LEI web page, Cotswolds AONB Management Plan, Cotswolds AONB Landscape Character Assessment and the Cotswolds AONB Landscape Strategy and Guidelines.

This is a discretionary grant with a two stage application process starting with a simple expression of interest (attached). If the expression of interest is successful, the ensuing full application will need to be detailed and complete. We have been informed that unlike many grant schemes the element of competition is relatively low so the prospect of strong eligible projects being funded is good.

Please note that the Board is not able to contribute to the minimum 25% match funding, though as well as cash, you can count in-kind and volunteer effort as match.

The Board will look to combine similar projects together under a single expression of interest to National Grid.

If you have a project idea please complete the expression of interest form and e-mail it to Simon Smith, Project Development Officer any time before the 14th June 2019.

Download the LEI Expression of Interest Form

Download the LEI Call for Projects Guidelines

Anyone with a project idea is encouraged to talk to Simon Smith the Board’s Project Development Officer .

E-mail                    Simon.smith@cotswolds-nl.org.uk

Please share this with anyone who you think may be interested


Secretary of State Vacancies

Would you like to play a leading role in conserving and enhancing the natural beauty and special qualities of our most treasured landscapes?

“I am looking for a wide range of passionate and committed individuals who want to help shape the strategic direction of our National Park Authorities and AONB Conservation Boards. As a Secretary of State appointed member, you will have the opportunity to help conserve and enhance our most treasured landscapes now and for future generations. I welcome applications from people who have a clear understanding of land management, rural communities, as well as protection and enhancement of the environment.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity

Current recruitment: Ministers are seeking to appoint 12 passionate and committed members to four National Park Authorities; Broads Authority, Lake District, Peak District, New Forest, and one Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; the Cotswolds Conservation Board. Secretary of State Members have an important role to play overseeing the management of these special landscapes. They provide leadership and strategic input, at a non-executive level, to the National Park Authorities and AONB Conservation Boards which work to ensure the deliveryof benefits to the national and local communities.

Contact: If you have any questions about the appointments process or would like an informal discussion about the role please contact AlexReid, Defra Public Appointments Team on 020 802 67248; publicappts@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

These positions are non-salaried but certain allowances are available. The time commitment varies between 1 -4 days per month.

For further information about this role and to apply, please visit the Centre for Public Appointments.

Closing date for applications: Noon on 13 May 2019

Download advert –  Secretary of State Vacancy