December 2009/January 2010 Update

Photo: @ShortTitle@
Reporting on the Board's activities since September 2009

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Reporting on the Board's activities since September 2009


Strategic management and planning

All of us at the Cotswolds Conservation Board would like to thank you for your help and support during 2009 and to wish you very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. 



Go-ahead given for Wormington to Sapperton gas pipeline

National Grid has received consent from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to construct a new natural gas pipeline in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.

Over the next few months, National Grid will be undertaking pre-construction work such as the delivery of pipes to prepared storage areas, coppicing hedges and developing accesses. Weather permitting, main construction work will start in March 2010, this involves fencing the working area, removing and storing topsoil, and digging a trench, which will be backfilled once the pipeline has been laid.

Martin Lane, Director at the Cotswolds Conservation Board said: “Not surprisingly the Board is disappointed that the route selected will go through so much of the AONB. The Board had objected to the route and challenged the route selection assessment. Nonetheless the Board accepts the department’s decision and will work with National Grid to ensure that the environmental qualities of the Cotswolds are safeguarded and where possible enhanced, during the construction of the pipeline.”

Throughout the project, all work within the Cotswolds AONB will be monitored by a consultant working on behalf of the Board as part of the pipeline team to ensure that all work meets the conditions set by DECC. To help with their understanding of the unique features of the Cotswolds, members of the project team recently undertook a two-day dry stone walling course run by the Board. This was found to be an extremely valuable team-building exercise, where staff were able to acquire a full appreciation of the time and skills necessary to reinstate the walls along the route of the pipeline. (Photo shows one of the National Grid project staff with walling tutor John Hepworth).

It is anticipated that the pipeline will be in operation by the end of September 2010, although reinstatement of the land may continue after this time.  For further details, visit:

Drystone Walling & Hedgelaying Competitions held

Twenty one dry stone wallers and 27 hedgelayers from across the country took part in this year's annual Cotswolds AONB Open Dry Stone Walling and North Cotswolds Hedgelaying Competitions held in the autumn.

The walling contest took place at Tetbury on Sunday 4th October and was organised by the Cotswolds Conservation Board along with the Cotswold branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association.

Four classes of competitors - beginner pairs, novice, amateur and professional – battled it out for the prestigious walling trophy and up to £120 cash prize under the expert eye of Master Craftsmen judges, John Day and Bill Noble, from the Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) of Great Britain.

This year saw the 10th anniversary of the annual hedgelaying competition, held at Foss Cross on 21st November. The contest also involved four classes of competitor, from junior through to veteran, who competed for points awarded for specific aspects of hedgelaying including cut and pleach, stake and heatherings, back of hedge and general appearance.

Competition organiser, Land Management Officer at the Cotswolds Conservation Board, Mark Connelly said: "Our annual rural skills competitions always attract a lot of interest and this year the standard was once again very high. We were delighted with the level of interest shown by both participants and spectators."

Tree O'Clock Planting

The Voluntary Wardens' South District work party rose to the challenge and planted 214 trees in one hour as part of the BBC’s Tree O’Clock challenge to establish a new world record.  As part of National Tree Week, BBC Breathing Spaces invited a wide range of organisations and individuals to set a new Guinness World Record for planting the most trees in one hour in multiple locations. The aim was to plant a million trees between 11.00am and 12.00 noon on Saturday 5th December, beating the existing record of 653,143 trees.

Photo courtesy of Mrs Barbara Jones

Helping wildlife adapt to climate change

The vision of an 80 mile long wildlife corridor running along the western edge of the Cotswolds from Bath to Mickleton has taken an important step towards becoming reality.

A Board proposal for a priority area based on the limestone grasslands of the Cotswolds scarp was accepted by the Gloucestershire Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) Partnership and is to be put forward to Biodiversity South West for inclusion in the Regional Delivery Plan. The Avon Biodiversity Partnership has also proposed the Cotswolds scarp and the area South of Bath. The proposals combine to create a truly landscape scale corridor where habitat creation and management can help wildlife adapt to climate change.

A number of key funders of biodiversity projects have indicated that they wish to support projects supported by the regional Biodiversity Partnerships. If the proposed area is selected as a regional priority within the Regional Delivery Plan the chances of bids succeeding to create a delivery project are greatly improved.

Understanding and enjoying

Celebrating Cotswolds Biodiversity in 2010

2010 has been declared International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations, with the aims of raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity, halting the loss of biodiversity, and celebrating success stories.  The Board will be getting involved with this campaign by coordinating three themed events to take place next year. These are:

• Cotswolds Bluebell Weekend 24-25 April
• Cotswolds Wildflower Week 12-20 June
• Cotswolds Rivers Week 4-12 September

The Voluntary Wardens are organising a number of guided walks as part of the above events, to help to interpret the Cotswolds biodiversity to a wide audience. We are also calling for partner organisations to get involved where possible to widen the range of activities on offer. If your organisation is able to offer any activities that could be included with these themed events, eg guided walks, nature hunts, children’s activities, talks, open days, etc, please email outline details to: or telephone 01451 862003.

All activities will be promoted online, in the Spring/Summer issue of the Cotswold Lion, in printed leaflets and through press and PR activities.

Alternative route for Cotswold Way

The Voluntary Wardens’ South District work party has erected 6 new oak Cotswold Way waymarker posts carrying the National Trail acorn to show the route across Selsley Common.
Paths across the Common have not been traditionally sign posted but a number of walkers on the Cotswold Way found it difficult to find the proper route. The signing follows extensive consultation with the parish council and local authority as well as Natural England and English Heritage as parts of the common are Sites of Scientific Interest or Scheduled Ancient Monument.
An alternative route was opened a couple of years ago in order to show walkers the wonderful views from Selsley Common, the historic church at Selsley, the industrial heritage around Ebley Mill, and the canal side walk alongside the Stroudwater Navigation. This leaves the main route at Middleyard and rejoins it at Ryeford.

Quantum Sheep at the Corinium Museum

The popular educational and interactive video game featuring time-travelling hero Quantum Sheep is now in Cirencester and being hosted by the Corinium Museum.
‘Quantum Sheep and the Wonderful Wolds’, developed by the Board, is designed to introduce the concept of landscape change over time to 7-11 year olds.  Primary school teachers visiting the museum have the opportunity to use the game as an aid for pupils studying History and Geography at Key Stage 2. An accompanying lesson planning pack enables school groups to take full advantage of opportunities available.

Amanda Hart, Education Officer at the Corinium Museum said: “this is a wonderful addition to our computer interactives in the galleries, which will really add excitement and intrigue for pupils visiting us to study the past.”
Photo shows children from Springfield School, Worcester enjoying the Cotswolds interactive game at the Corinium Museum, Cirencester.

New Cotswold Way brochure

A new 20-page, colour brochure for the Cotswold Way National Trail was recently produced by the Board, with funding from Natural England, and included as part of October's Cotswold Life magazine. An additional 5,000 copies have been printed and are being distributed to visitor information centres and libraries over the next few months to highlight the many features, attractions and places of interest along the country’s newest national trail.



New Cotswolds AONB Interpretation Centre

It was agreed at the last Board meeting on 10th December to develop a new visitor interpretation centre at the Board’s Northleach office. The large, glazed North Gallery area, adjoining the Grade II listed Old Prison building, will provide an excellent space in which to tell the fascinating story of the Cotswolds AONB. Starting with the history of the landscape and the people of the Cotswolds through to present day conservation and recreational activities, the new centre will be an excellent resource for both visitors to and local residents in the AONB.
The centre is planned to open at Easter 2010.

People and communities

Board is creating a buzz

The Board has awarded a grant from its Sustainable Development Fund to the Evesham Beekeeping Association to establish a new branch apiary at Pershore College.
The £1,500 grant will go towards the purchase of six new hives and provision of training for new and existing beekeepers. New beekeepers will be trained in the best practices of beekeeping, while a number of new projects will be set up for existing beekeepers, including Queen rearing to propagate for health and disease resistant strains of bees appropriate to local conditions.
Supporting the project are Pershore College, Wychavon District Council, along with members of the Evesham Beekeeping Association.

Norwegian visit

A group of 38 Norwegians from the Telemark Canal area visited the Cotswolds AONB in October to find out more about the work of the Board including strategic planning, local distinctiveness and tourism.
The visit included a trip to Cotswold Farm Park to find out more about how the farm has diversified into tourism, plus a presentation by Malcolm Watt about the AONB and the Board.


My Countryside

The final shape of the Board’s ‘Access to Nature’ bid is becoming clearer in the final run up to bid submission early in the New Year. There are now three primary strands of activity: helping people with disabilities access the Cotswolds; supporting urban and rural schools in discovering their environments together; and working with deprived communities in Banbury, Cheltenham and Gloucester. A wide array of partners, volunteers, teachers and communities have been fantastic in coming forward with ideas and support for the bid. Success is far from certain so fingers crossed.

New Project Officer appointed

Simon Smith joined the Board in September as Project Management and Business Development Officer, to help drive forward the Board's 3-year business plan and develop a range of new exciting projects for the Cotswolds AONB, including the My Countryside bid.
Simon, who is a keen naturalist, was previously Assistant Director (Operations) with the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust for the past three years, where he oversaw a wide array of operations including the local biological records centre, programmes engaging people in individual and community activity around sustainable living, biodiversity advocacy and reserve management teams and an in-house farming enterprise.

Forum for Partners

This year’s second Forum for Partners was held on 10th November at the Great Oak Hall, Westonbirt. The 26 guests attending heard from staff members of the Board on a range of presentations including the Higher Level Stewardship scheme, Business Plan 2010-13 and plans to apply for the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism. Miranda Winram, Project Director at Westonbirt also gave a presentation on the Forestry Commission’s ambitious plans to develop visitor facilities at the National Arboretum.

New Board member

Mrs Hazel Bleaken has been elected as Vice Chair of Hawkesbury Parish Council and welcomed as a new Member of the Cotswolds Conservation Board. Mrs Bleaken is a pest controller by occupation and currently manages a holiday let business. Her interests include biodiversity and horseriding.

Student Placement Vacancy

The Board is currently recruiting for next year’s Student Placement vacancy which is a one year placement, starting between May and the end July 2010. Details can be found on the Board’s website. Deadline for applications is 31 January 2010.