A grant scheme which covers up to 50% of the cost of repairs to drystone walls has been extended to cover the whole of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The scheme, which is part of the Cotswolds Conservation Board's 'Caring for the Cotswolds' project will now enable landowners to apply for grants to repair walls anywhere within the 790 sq mile landscape.

The Cotswolds AONB is a designated landscape, equal in status to a National Park and stretches from south Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through West Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire and takes in parts of north Wiltshire and the area surrounding Bath.

The grants cover up to 50% of the wall repairs but the actual percentage will depend on the prominence of the wall and the benefits to the public of repairing it.

John Tabor from the Caring for the Cotswolds Project said:

"Dry stone walls are a vitally important feature in the Cotswolds landscape and we are delighted to be able to extend the grants scheme to the whole of the AONB. Landowners in earlier target areas welcomed the financial support and the grants have enabled many to complete work that would not have been carried out had the grants not been available."

The Caring for the Cotswolds project is also offering additional grant funding for the restoration of limestone grassland, the conservation or creation of locally distinctive features in Cotswold villages and towns and the development of interpretative material to help communities explain features of local interest to visitors.

The deadline for grant applications is 13th July 2007 and any grant aided work should be completed by October.

For more information contact: Jonathan Gahan: 01451 862002 / 07841 663603 or John Tabor: 01451 862032.


Notes for editors:

The Cotswolds Conservation Board works to encourage the rural skill of dry stone walling. During the summer months the Board holds a series of two day dry stone walling training courses across the AONB. We also work alongside partner organisations to subsidise walling courses run by Stroud College and Witney College, which are held at the Ebworth Estate near Stroud and at the Cornbury Estate in West Oxfordshire.

The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is cared for by the Cotswolds Conservation Board - an independent organisation with 40 members, 17 nominated by local authorities, eight by parish councils and 15 appointed by Government.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board acts as an advisor to planning departments of the 17 local authorities within the AONB.

The Government has designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks as our finest countryside and they are recognised as being of national importance.

With its rolling hills and valleys the Cotswolds is the largest of 40 AONBs in England and Wales and is protected to ensure that its beauty and special character are conserved. 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.

Press contact: Claire Cunningham

Tel: 01451 862003

Cotswolds Conservation Board Fosse Way, Northleach, Gloucestershire GL54 3JH

Tel: 01451 862000 Website: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk